Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SLOW- It's my New Fast

I only made it 8 days without sewing, I couldn't stand it anymore. On day #8, I sewed for 15 minutes, took an hour long break, then sewed for another 15 minutes. After that, I took a two day break, because I had a couple nights with the grandkids. Only 30 minutes of sewing in ten days is hard for me, but I did it. 

Today I'm past the restriction of no sewing, and so far I've sewn for 20 minutes today. I needed to press the half blocks I sewed, and I found ironing harder on my arm than sewing. 

Here is my pile of half blocks. I didn't count when I made extra strip sets, but this is at least enough to make the queen sized quilt I need from it. Any extra blocks will likely go into a baby quilt, because I've got a couple of those to make for next year. Maybe someone will be having a girl???

I wasn't banned from scissors, so I cut out the stocking shapes I needed from batting and muslin.

I'm making string stockings for both DD#1's family and DD#3's family. I string piece directly onto the batting, using it as a foundation. The muslin will be the lining. 

I also cut out some felt nesting dolls I plan on making my granddaughters for Christmas. My arm felt like it was on fire after cutting those out, even though I only cut out one set per day, and took five minutes breaks between cutting each piece. 

Yesterday, I got covered in KT tape to help support the areas that are hurt. My wrist is covered because I'm having nerve infringement along my ulna nerve, which is making my ring finger and pinky go numb. My shoulder in this same arm is covered in KT tape too, I think the pattern looks a lot like a chicken foot. I told DH this is my sexy Terminator look. I think I'm going to buy some colored tape for next time, maybe pink or purple. It really does seem to help.

So what have I been doing with most of my time since I wasn't sewing? I did a lot of my Christmas shopping online. I've only got DD#1 and DH left to buy for, besides stocking stuffers, but I've started on that too. 

Mostly, I've been researching things that will help me quilt without wrecking my body. DH is insistent I do very little rotary cutting from now on. To that end, he wants to buy me the electric GO Big cutter. I already have the original Go cutter, but he doesn't even want me cranking the handle. All the dies I currently have will work with the Go Big cutter, but there are more dies I will need if I'm not going to be doing much rotary cutting. I don't have any of the strip dies at all. I started a wishlist with the dies I think I will use most, which include more strip dies than I originally thought I'd use. I was originally thinking I'd just get the 1.2, 2, and 2.5" cut strip dies. DH asked me if they had any dies that could do the most common sub-cutting I do on strips. Hmmm, after thinking about it, I added the 3.5, 4.5, 5, and 6.5" strip dies. I told him what the total cost of my wishlist was, and he didn't bat an eye, He told me he'd buy whatever I needed to be able to keep quilting. How I love that man! When the total didn't shock him, I let him off the hook, told him I wouldn't buy any of it at regular price, I can easily wait for sales. I also don't need to buy everything at once, but honestly, I think he would buy it all it all at once if it helped me. 

I asked for some advice in one of my online quilting groups, and got some interesting suggestions. One person said to switch out whether I am cutting thread with scissors, snips or a seam ripper, just to vary the motion I'm using. Several people said to vary my activity frequently, change positions a lot. Sew for a short time, press for a short time, take a break, set timers so I don't lose track of time. I'm willing to try almost anything right now, because I need to think long term. 

It seems like the most damage is done to my deltoids, both the tendon and muscle. From what I hear, it's a slow healing injury. It makes sense that this took time to cause the injury, it's going to take time to heal. 

I'm a little lost on what to work on right now. I'm thinking I will not be finishing any quilts in the next month or so. I am looking at getting a suspension system for when I do start FMQ again. I am still hoping to make gifts for the grandkids for Christmas, plus I need to make those Christmas stockings and two Christmas tree skirts. Since all the Christmas projects are smaller, I think I'll probably mostly work on those. I have several quilts ready to assemble, and I may try to get a couple of those together too, we'll see. Your guess on what I'll get done is as good as mine. I'm trying to be good, and get back into sewing slowly. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sewed Myself to a Standstill

I've been sewing long hours, 8-10 hours a day, trying to catch up on projects after barely sewing for a year. I love sewing long hours, it's not a chore to me, it's a joy. I love watching projects come together. Even when they don't come out like I want, it's a learning experience. Now I've got another learning experience, and it's going to be a hard adjustment. 

I've struggled with neck and shoulder pain after sewing long hours for a while now. I started wearing a weighted brace to improve my posture, and that has helped quite a bit. A couple days ago, I woke up unable to lift my right arm to the side. I thought maybe I "slept wrong". Well, no, actually, I have a repetitive stress injury. Too much sewing, too many hours per day, and I've risked doing permanent damage. 

Treatment- anti-inflammatories, no sewing for 10 days, and I can ramp up to four hours of sewing per day after that, depending on how things go. No more ten hour sewing days, ever, if I want to protect my body. 

My first thoughts were- I won't be able to get my niece's wedding quilt done in time. I won't be able to make the Christmas presents I had planned to make.

Both of those are true. My niece's wedding quilt will be late, I won't be able to do everything I wanted to do for Christmas. I should be able to do some things for Christmas if I am careful. 

I am disappointed, but I am blessed. I'm not a slow and steady type of person, but I guess that's the lesson I need to learn right now. I can still sew (after a break) , just not at the pace I'm used to. I guess I'm going to be a part-time quilter instead of a full-time quilter. But, in the end, quilts will still get made, and I'll be better for the restraint. 

The next ten days are going to be hard. Almost everything I do hurts my arm, and I'm supposed to be resting it. I don't rest well. I normally can't even watch TV unless I'm doing something with my hands. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the time, it will feel like I'm wasting it, and I hate wasting time. I can't spend the time doing some other craft, I need to rest my arm. 

Anybody have any suggestions of what to watch on Netflix??? I just finished Call the Midwife. I've seen the only season of Anne with an E. I watched all of those while sewing, sub-cutting, or pin-basting, all of which are off limits right now. 

Could be a long ten days!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Two Color Quilt???

One of the wedding quilts I'm making was requested to be blue and white. A two color quilt, pretty common, right? I'm a scrappy girl, it's what I like best, so when I make a two color quilt, I'm not sure it actually counts as two colors.

I finished this quilt top today. To me, this is a two color quilt. In fact, I only used one white! Are there more than two colors in it? Well, yes, but the fabrics I chose read as blue as a whole. 

Here is a closer look at some of the fabrics. I see a scooter, Thor, mice, a lighthouse, fans, a Navy ship, Superman, Little Mermaid, bees, cats, dolphins, frogs, Santa, strawberries, even part of the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Some of the fabrics have more blue than others, but from a few feet away, it's blue. 

I've been having a lot of neck and shoulder pain, so instead of sewing like a mad woman trying to get these quilt tops assembled, I've been having to vary my activities. I ended up cutting out three of the four weighted blankets I need to make. I pieced those tops as leaders/enders while assembling the blue and white quilt. 

Right now I've just got the weighted blanket tops lying across the guest bed. I'm not sure when I'll be finishing these, but at least the tops are done. 

Here's a pic of that gluten-free Apple Custard Pie I talked about in the last blog post. It was very good, and I'm definitely making that recipe again. 

I have two more quilt tops I need to finish, so even though I'll be piecing into October, when I wanted to only be quilting in October, that's what needs to happen. One of the quilt tops I need to finish is the Bargello, which I haven't worked on at all lately, and the other just needs assembly, all the blocks are done. Oh, on the purple/white Strip Twist that I decided to make bigger, I'm almost done the extra blocks for it, but probably will set it aside to get these other quilts finished. 

Overall, once I get these last two quilt tops finished, I'm in a good starting place for the other quilts I did set aside. I either got the blocks done, or I got the top done before I put it aside in a container with all the parts and necessary fabrics. I went through stash today and chose a couple backing fabrics for the kids guest beds. I may not have finished my September goals in September, but I'm close! I even got a few things started on Christmas gift front, so being a bit behind on the quilts may be OK, since I've got a head start on my November goals. 

I refuse to get myself fretting about things. I'm having a great time watching projects come together. I'd prefer not being so far behind on gift quilts, but that's OK too. I am blessed with a great, big family, and that just gives me lots of reasons to make more quilts. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Three Quilt Tops

I am still plugging along on assembling quilt tops. I finished the second quilt top for the kids guest room. I decided to set it differently from the first one.

The quilts for the guest rooms will be some of the first I quilt with my Tin Lizzie. It doesn't feel like fall here, it's still in the 90's, but it will get cooler eventually. I don't have any quilts for any of the three guest beds in the house, so getting those done comes before the gift quilts. 

I mentioned I had never counted the HST's I cut from men's shirts. Well, I never did count them, but I counted how many I had left after making two twin sized quilt tops. I had 48 HST's left, which, if set 6x8, left me with a 36x48 inch quilt. I consider that too small for a baby quilt, but, it would work perfectly for DD#2's pet corgi. She's been wanting me to make her dog a quilt, because that dog is obsessed with quilts. If there is a quilt in the room, that's where you can find that dog. I could have made more HST's to make a people quilt, but I don't need any extra projects right now. I could have set the blocks aside for now, but I didn't want to do that either, so here is Navi the Corgi's quilt top.

I didn't have a lot of variety left after making two quilts from the HST's, but I don't think the dog will care much. I think Navi's quilt will be the first I quilt on the Tin Lizzie, the dog won't complain if my quilting is a bit wobbly. 

The third quilt top I made is from a failed border. I cut the brown triangles with a pieced border in mind, but once I pieced a few blocks, I decided it wasn't working for me. Instead of sticking it aside and taking a chance I wouldn't do anything with the pieces, I cut some more triangles from two other fabrics, and came up with this.

It's nothing fancy, but I kind of like it. It's got a lot of motion to it. It's funny, the HST's with blue really bring out the blue flowers in the brown fabric, and the HST's with the peach really bring out the peach flowers. Before I assembled the quilt, it looked like I had used two different brown fabrics. This is a good throw sized quilt, nice for napping. 

I laid out the blue king sized quilt today. I don't have enough space to lay out a quilt that large at one time. The quilt has 12 rows, so I laid out six rows, labeled them and pinned them together. I put aside rows 1-5, and only pieced row six. Once I had that row together, I put it down and then figured out the rest of the quilt. 

I've been piecing on three other quilts as leaders/enders while I'm assembling quilts. One of the quilts I've come to an impasse on. I never figured a layout for the quilt, I just have a bunch of various blocks. I may actually put that one aside for now, though overall, I've been trying not to do that. I think it has the potential to be a really great quilt, and I don't want to hurry it so much I don't bring it to it's potential. 

The purple/white Strip Twist I was working on has a slight problem. I must have cut two of the blocks in the incorrect direction, so now I need to make at least a couple more blocks. I looked through my stash for a border fabric, but couldn't decide on one, so I'm opting to make a bunch more blocks instead, and make it into a borderless quilt. I've already pulled the fabrics to do that, along with the fabrics I need for a couple Christmas projects. My plan is to spend tomorrow cutting. Unfortunately, I also need to cut another Drunkard's Path block for another project, because as I was sewing the blocks, I somehow lost a couple pieces, or cut the wrong amount originally. I never put fabrics back in the stash until I've finished the quilt top, so I still have the fabric out that I need. So, tomorrow is a big cutting day for me! 

On the non-quilting front, DH has been home a lot lately, which cuts into my sewing time, but is nice to see him more all at once. What really cuts into my sewing time is the fact I've been having to COOK since he's home! Up until a couple weeks ago I was only cooking dinner a couple days a week, and I was eating sandwiches or cereal for dinner. DH works 12 hour shifts and isn't home for lunch or dinner, and I'm not going to waste sewing time cooking for just me. For the foreseeable future, he's home four days a week, which is crazy compared to his normal schedule. Tomorrow it's cutting, making lasagna, and making an apple custard pie from a new gluten-free recipe I want to try. DH is gluten-free, and it's amazing how much better he feels being GF. I tried going GF, and noticed no difference after 5 months of being GF, so I eat mostly GF at home, but eat whatever I like if we go out. I need to find the "perfect" GF pie crust before Thanksgiving, so DH has to "suffer" through some pie experiments. I've already tried several GF pie crusts, but altering my regular pie crust recipe has been what he's liked best so far. The one I'm trying tomorrow has sour cream in the crust, and I'm intrigued. So many recipes, so little time...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tin LIzzie is Ready to Go!

I'm trying to stick to my plan, which means I'm not currently quilting on my Tin Lizzie, but I am anxious to. Right now my plan is:

September- finish as many quilt tops as I can
October- Quilt as many quilts as I can
November and December- work on Christmas gifts
January- back to quilting

It's hard to stick with finishing quilt tops when I've got a brand new Tin Lizzie to play with, but I know in the long run this is the best option. I had WAY too many projects going at once, and I need to get those cleaned up before I start on Christmas presents. The best way to clean up quilt pieces is to at least get them into quilt tops. I use skirt hangers, and hang all my pressed quilt tops in a closet in the guest room. They will be ready to quilt whenever I get to them, with a minimum amount of pressing to do. If I've pieced a back for the quilt, it gets hung with the quilt top.  

Last weekend, I moved my Bernina into the living room, and set myself up a sewing corner.

I replaced some of the plastic drawers that left with my kids, and now my scrap user system is readily available again. Having it in totes shoved into closets was not working for me at all. Drawers are much easier access, both when using the scrap user system and putting away scraps I've cut to the sizes I save. The drawers that were empty in this photo are now full of thread cones. I decided now that I'll be quilting more regularly, having my thread cones easily available instead of in a tote under the stairs was a good idea. 

I spied this cabinet at Hobby Lobby and fell in love. A scrappy bunch of drawers, how can a scrappy quilter resist that? This is now just to the right of my Bernina cabinet in the living room, and holding all my other sewing threads that aren't big cones. I had another cabinet for threads that I also got at Hobby Lobby a couple years ago, but now I'll be storing quilting rulers and templates in it. I'm hoping to expand my quilting template now that I have a long arm. 

Here is my Tin Lizzie in the Arrow Quilty cabinet. I am still using a set of shelves to the left of the cabinet to keep the quilts from falling off the cabinet. I like quilting in a corner, because if the quilt can't fall off the cabinet, there is a lot less drag when you are maneuvering the quilt. I still have quite a bit to do to get this set up the way I want it. I haven't put the accessories I want readily available in the drawer, or cleaned up all the quilt parts on the set of black shelves. I told you, too many projects, and now I need to sew like crazy to get as many as I can into quilt tops, just to clean things up a bit. 

The throat or harp space (whichever term you prefer) is 7.5 inches x 4.5 inches. The harp space on my Tin Lizzie is 18 inches by 6 inches. You want to see what kind of difference that actually is?

I took several measurements, and cut the green paper the exact size and shape of my Bernina 440 harp. Can you see how much more space I'll have quilting on the Tin Lizzie? This should make things so much easier. I'm sure I will still get sore quilting, I make a lot of king sized quilts and they get heavy, but not having to cram a king sized quilt through that tiny space? Amazing!

I've been sewing quilts into rows, and I have three ready to sew the rows together and finish assembly. I've been using the hundreds of 3" nine patches I need for DD#3's wedding quilt as my leader/enders while assembling. I have over half of the tiny nine patches done now. Next blog post I hope to have at least three quilt tops to show you!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Swing and a Miss

If you've been quilting very long, you've very likely had the problem I have right now. I made a quilt top, but I don't like it. It was going to be a gift, but I'm starting a new quilt for that gift. Quilting may improve the quilt, but not enough to want to gift it. I'll show you some photos of my quilting strike out, but do know that I cannot get the colors to photograph correctly, and the quilt is really peach, rust, brown and blue. 

The pattern is fine, my fabric choices were not. I was basing my color selection on colors in the fabric I wanted to use as the border. These colors match that fabric, but don't work in the quilt. 

Here is 1/4 the quilt, so you can see the pattern better. I don't like making quilts with so few fabrics, partly because I find them boring, and partly because it is much easier to make a mistake choosing fabric. I think I'll make this pattern again, but instead make a scrappy green background with white trails...or maybe a scrappy purple background with silver trails...

I took all the leftovers from this quilt top, added one fabric that doesn't really match the colors but somehow works anyway, and made a throw sized quilt top.

I like this one better than the original. I used all of that one added fabric that I had, so no hoping it will redeem the other quilt center. 

I managed to get one more quilt center together too, one of the quilts that will go in the grandkid guest room.

This is all men's shirts, and the other quilt for that room will be too. I'm going to use a different setting for the other quilt though. This quilt top I really like, and I think it will be a fun addition to the grandkid room. 

I have several other quilt tops I need to assemble, and I'm almost done all the blocks for a couple more on top of those. I find myself using borders less and less these days. A couple of the quilts I'm making will have borders, but I think over half will not. 

Oh, my custom insert for the Tin Lizzie arrived today, so when we get a chance, we can get it set up now! I'm thinking that won't be until late next week, but we'll see. Tomorrow I hope to go buy new plastic drawers to store my Scrap User System. I tried using totes, but it doesn't work for me, and I much preferred using drawers to store it. I have a couple quilts I need to start that will be mostly pulled from the Scrap User System, so having it where I can get to it is important. 

I've moved all my quilt tops to one closet, and I've got quite the collection of quilt tops waiting for quilting. I'm hoping the Tin Lizzie helps me catch up!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Quilt Top, a Mess, and a Sneak Peek

Remember a couple months ago I made this quilt?

When I made those square in a square units, instead of cutting exact sizes, I used flip and sew corners, and I double sewed the corners giving me a bunch of bonus HST's. I debated a few different things to do with my bonus HST's, but decided on this...

I really love how this quilt top came out, I think it is just adorable. I used every bonus HST in this quilt, every single one, with none leftover, and I didn't have to make any extra for this quilt. I had the border fabric in my stash, and I honestly can't remember where I got it. I'm thinking I must have picked it up at a thrift store, because I only had 1 2/3 yards, and I never would have purchased such an odd amount to stash. I used all of the border fabric in this quilt, aside from a few scraps that went into the scrap user system. Since I knew I was cutting it close on the border fabric, I used what I had to determine the strip width and border width. It worked out really well I think. I'm never one to use a formula or ratio to determine border widths, it is usually a matter of how much fabric I have, and I need to make it work. 

My room is such a mess! I did manage to get one quilt together, but I have parts to several others all over my room. 

I subcut all the stripsets for the Blooming Nine Patch quilt. You can't really tell in this photo, but the container in the back left actually has finished nine patches. All the stripsets for that bargello quilt are just piled up, I haven't done any more with them.

Here is the table to the left of where I sit at my sewing machine. It's crazy to have this many block parts on this table from so many different projects! I need to get these block parts sewn up, then I'll be able to assemble a few quilts, and thereby clean up some of the mess!

On the right front of my table, you can see my new bobbin savers, bright lime green, with size M bobbins in them. Why size M???

I bought a Tin Lizzie sit down longarm!!! I've been thinking about getting one for a while, and I've used both a Tin Lizzie and a Handiquilter at a quilt show. I wanted a sit down model, because although I technically do have room for a quilting frame right now, someday we are likely to downsize, and I don't want that to be an issue. I tend to make really big quilts, king sized is common for me, and I'd have to have the largest frame if I wanted a longarm on a frame. Honestly, I just don't want that much of my house taken up by a quilting frame. 

I wasn't a big fan of the design of the Tin Lizzie table, so I ordered a Quilty cabinet from Arrow Cabinets. Honestly, even if I had gone with a Handiquilter, I probably would have purchased the Quilty cabinet. 

I really debated between the two machines. The Tin Lizzie doesn't have a stitch regulator, but I don't like the way the Handiquilter stitch regulator works, and wouldn't have bought it anyway. I learned to FMQ without a stitch regulator, so I'm sure I will get used to it again. Sometimes I forget to turn the BSR on on my Bernina anyway. So, basically, stitch regulation was not a serious consideration for me. 

On lighting, the Handiquilter is a clear winner. Lighting is important to me, and I'll be looking at ways to improve the lighting on the Tin Lizzie. Since the Tin Lizzie was $2,000+ less expensive, I can probably buy some extra lighting.

Here is something that I'm probably odd on, I like Tin Lizzie better in the fact it is all mechanical. No computer interface to blow, it's got no bells and whistles, which makes it easier to use and less expensive to fix. 

Handiquilter has a 16" throat, Tin Lizzie an 18" throat. Either one would feel huge after I've spent the last few years shoving quilts through a 7.5" throat. I'm anxious to get to know my Tin Lizzie, but I'm waiting on the custom insert to come for the cabinet. I'll be moving the Tin Lizzie into my bedroom for now, and moving my Bernina into the living room. I'm hoping to get a bunch of those block parts sewn up before I have to move everything. If I can get a few of the current projects into quilt tops that would be better! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Love/Hate Relationships

If you think I'm going to be talking about people, sorry to disappoint you ;-) Right now my love/hate relationship is with strip piecing. When I first started quilting, I did a lot of strip piecing, but as time goes on, I do less and less of it. I like lots of variety in my quilts, and normally strip piecing doesn't allow for the type of variety I prefer.

When I'm making quilts for other people, my tastes are not what matters, theirs are, so I end up using fewer fabrics, or colors I dislike (SO MUCH BLUE- I HATE BLUE!!!) or techniques that aren't my favorite, but they make more sense for the pattern. 

In the last post, I showed my ironing board overflowing with stripsets, that were all waiting for pressing. I finally pressed the last of those this morning. I really hate pressing WOF fabric stripsets. Shorter stripsets (from fat quarters or scraps) aren't as bad, but those long, tangly, WOF stripsets are hard to press with no folds, no flipped seams, just neatly done. 

One of the quilts I'm making stripsets for is a Blooming Nine Patch. Normally for nine patches I just cut squares, and web the blocks as I sew. For the quilt I'm making, I need 480 3" finished nine patches. I need 8 different colorways in sets of 60. Now, I'm not fond of strip piecing nine patches, but did I really want to cut 4,320 squares, and hope I sewed them all together correctly for the 8 different colorways? In this case, stripsets make more sense, and when I get all those stripsets sub-cut, re-sewn, and see a huge pile of nine patches suddenly come together, I will LOVE that!

I only have half the stripsets I need sewn for the Blooming Nine Patch. My goal is to have all the stripsets for it done and sub-cut by tomorrow night. 

^My purple/white stripsets are already sub-cut into blocks. SO much easier to work with now! I have more cutting to do on these before I sew any more on them, but I'm happy to not have those WOF stripsets sitting around anymore. This quilt will be a Strip Twist.

^These stripsets need to be sewn together, because I'm making my first bargello quilt. Sewing a bargello quilt doesn't worry me at all, but sub-cutting these huge stripsets somewhat terrifies me. I'm hoping it will be easier than I think it will, and if worse comes to worse, I have two extra strips of each fabric cut, so I could make extra stripsets if I need to. 

I didn't get as much sewing done this week as I expected. Even with fewer people in the house, life still happens, and interruptions occur. I'm feeling pressure because so many quilts I'm working on are so overdue, and I'm normally an on time person. No one is bothering me about the quilts, they understand I've had a lot going on. I'm the one pressuring myself, but probably not for the reason you'd think. I want to get the gift quilts done, so I can work on some fun quilts. I have some bucket list quilts I'd like to start, as well as some UFO's I'd like to get finished. The gift quilts need to be finished first, but I've already got a couple on my list for 2018!!! So many blessings come with a big family, so many excuses to make more quilts!


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


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


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.