Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year End Reckoning and 2018 Goals

Normally, I do a year end review on how much quilting I've gotten done in the last year. 2017 was a horrible year for finishes, I only finished three quilts total, the worst year since I started quilting in earnest. Just because I only finished three quilts, doesn't mean I didn't work on any quilts, or finish non-quilty sewing.

Here are my empty spools from 2017. They represent 11,206 yards of thread, or 6.4 miles if you prefer.

I made a bunch of placemats, potholders, bean bag frogs and some other misc. stuff this year. I made several quilt tops this year, just failed on the quilting part.

So, how does the 2018 quilting forecast look? There are so many variables right now, it's hard to predict. I did join the Stashbusters Yahoo Group UFO challenge, to help keep me on track. I need to finish the backlog of wedding quilts that are long overdue, as well as make three baby quilts for babies due this year. Two of the wedding quilts are quilt tops, two are halfway or more on their way to being tops, and one only has some cutting done. Those five wedding quilts and the baby quilts are my priority, along with getting quilts on the beds in our house. I've got tops made for three of the beds in the house.  I have one that would match our bedroom adequately, that needs the top assembled, but all the blocks are made.

I've got things working for me quilting-wise, and things working against me. Right now, it's looking like there will be 2.5 months of 2018 I will likely get no sewing done at all. That's a big chunk of the year to lose. Also working against me is my repetitive stress injury, which is still causing problems, and is slowing my progress considerably.

In my favor are my new sit down longarm, along with the quilt suspension system DH said I should get. Hopefully the quilt suspension system will make quilting easier on my arm.

Right now I have no sewing room, but sometime this summer, that should change, and I think having a sewing room again will make things easier. Knowing I will have whole months without quilting makes me hesitate on saying 2018 will be a banner quilting year for me.

In order to keep things straight for myself, I'll list my 2018 goals.

1) Finish and deliver the five wedding quilts that are past due.
2) Make and deliver the three baby quilts I know I need for 2018
3) Finish and deliver the five weighted blankets I need to make.
4) Finish quilts for at least three of the four beds in our house.

IF I can accomplish that, I'll be thrilled. I have lots of UFO's that are not represented on this list, so finishing any of those would be a bonus. I have a couple dozen quilt tops needing quilting. I also have several quilts that need the tops assembled, but I have all the units made. Getting some of those blocks into quilt tops I would also consider a win.

I know I can't catch up in one year, especially not this year, knowing there is already so much going on. I'm really just wanting to make progress, finish some things, move others to the next stage.

For most of the year I'm going to try to be no-buy on fabric. It's not a financial decision, but rather a practical one. When I get to set up my sewing room, I may decide I'd like a piece of furniture or two, and building up some quilting funds will help with that. Also, there is a chance I'll get to Marshall Dry Goods in Arkansas this year, and if I do, I know I'll stock up on basics (blenders, tone-on-tones) there. If I want to concentrate on UFO's, no buy should help with that. I should have everything I need to finish the UFO's I've got, so really no need to shop.

Wishing all of you a Happy 2018!


Friday, December 29, 2017

Quick Post

This is going to be a quick post, because we are celebrating Christmas tonight. I've got the lasagna ready to go into the oven, the chicken cooked and ready to go into the alfredo once it's made, and the desserts are done, so I've got a few minutes.

I got the top done for one of my nieces. This was one of the quilts I was trying to get to top stage before January 1.

I remembered I had promised DD#2 I'd make her some cloth coasters, since her little one has managed to break most of her other ones. They are coming down for Christmas today, so I was working on her coasters last night, while the desserts were in the oven.

I have another quarter done on DD#3's quilt, so only one quarter to go! I'm using a border print fabric for the borders on that quilt, and I got that cut out yesterday. Some of those border prints are just gorgeous, but fussy cutting three yard long strips is not that fun. Actually, if I'm honest, I don't like fussy cutting anything!

I had hoped to get DD#3's wedding quilt together as a top before January 1, but that's doubtful now. I won't have a chance to sew again until Sunday, and I'm only halfway done one row for the last quarter. It's been taking me a two-three days to do one quarter, depending on what else is going on that day. At least with the borders ready to go on, I feel like I'm close.

I'll definitely work on that fourth quarter on Sunday, but what I work on New Year's Day depends entirely on where I am on the UFO Queen's list for Stashbusters Yahoo group. I joined the UFO challenge for the first time. I've been  member of Stashbusters for years, and I've done the no-buy challenge, as well as the WIPs and WHIMMs challenge, but didn't really need the UFO challenge until now. The last two years my sewing time has been quite limited, and it shows in how many UFO's I have. UFO's are taking up far too much space in my house and my head, and 2018 needs to be a finishing year.

Friday, December 22, 2017


I've got DD#3's wedding quilt top to the halfway point! Well, it's really one row more than halfway, because there are an odd number of rows. I think this one will be stunning when finished, and photos just don't do the colors justice. It's so much prettier in person.

I've laid out the last two quarters of this quilt, each row pinned. I had to take a little break from working on this, because I had no quilt on the guest bed, and I'll have two different sets of people sleeping in that bed within the next week. One set arrives the day the other set leaves.

I have a quilt top I want on the guest bed, but no time to baste, quilt and bind it. I have another quilt pinbasted that would fit the guest bed, but again, no time to quilt and bind it. I have very few quilts in the house, since I give almost all of them away. I have no queen sized quilts in the house...except...I do have a quilt we were given as a wedding gift. The pieces to this quilt were cut out by DH's great-grandmother, but she passed away before she could finish the quilt. A friend of the family finished the quilt, and it was given to us when we got married. The top is all double knit polyester, the backing cotton.

This quilt has been used hard through the years. It was on our bed for many years, my kids made lots of blanket forts with it, there were a few times we all squished under it to watch a movie when the kids were young and we lived in Missouri. This quilt has been well-loved, and when I started to think about it, I realized if my kids were ever to fight over a quilt after I die, it wouldn't be one I made, but likely be this one, because it is jam packed with memories. I didn't start quilting until my kids were all teenagers or older. I was too busy homeschooling and making their clothes when they were younger.

This block was in the worst shape. and I knew I needed to do something about it. I had no double knit in my stash, but last time I went to see my parents, my mom gave me an old pair of white double knit pants that had belonged to one of my aunts. The "binding" was just the backing folded over the front, and it was completely threadbare. The entire backing could use replacing, but, the quilt was hand quilted and I kind of hate to replace the backing because of that. Someday, I may lay another layer of backing over it, and machine quilt it enough to stay in place, but I'd rather not. Deciding how to repair an old quilt is really a matter of preference, when it's not restoring a valuable quilt. So how did I tackle the repair?

I appliqued the "new" white double knit over the shredded pieces, adding in batting where there was none. I also added a wide binding directly over the old one. It's not perfect by a long shot, but this repair likely gave this old quilt a few more years. For now, this quilt is on the guest bed, but once I get the quilt I'm making for the guest bed finished, this one will reside on a quilt rack in the guest room. It can be an extra blanket instead of one used regularly, and hopefully the light use will extend it's life considerably. 

I hadn't handled this quilt in a while, and I had forgotten some of it's charm.

Both the top and bottom rows only have 3/4 stars. I've seen lots of half blocks on edges, but 3/4 blocks struck me as funny. There are several areas of "poverty piecing". Can you see the seam in the bottom right hand corner of the pink star? There are multiple places in the quilt where the squares were pieced. I've done that myself a few times, when I've run out of fabric.

I'm still hoping to get those two quilt tops finished before January 1st, but a lot is going on in the next week, so we'll see!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

This Quilting Is Being Interrupted for Holiday Festivities

It always happens, I think I'm going to have lots of time to sew, then my schedule fills up with stuff I had no idea was going on.

I did actually have quite a bit of sewing time over the weekend. I finished the quarter of the quilt I showed laid out in my last post. I have since gotten a second quarter sewn into rows. I should have sewing time on Thursday, so maybe I'll get that second quarter sewn up and join it to the first quarter. I see the halfway point coming!

For a lot of quilts, I use two rows of the same quilt as leaders/enders for each other. This Blooming Nine Patch has such a high likelihood of making a mistake, I need to use something else as leaders/enders while I assemble it.

I finished all the little HST nine patches for my scrappy quilt. I can't make those into the bigger blocks until I cut the sashing pieces, so those are set aside for now.

After I finished the HST nine patches, I looked around and saw that I had the sub-units done for Weed Whacker, and I only needed to sew two seams to get each block done. I used these as leaders/enders until I got all of these blocks together.

Next, I laid out one of the wedding quilts I needed to assemble, and I got all of the columns sewn up today as leaders/enders. There will be strips between each column, and I still need to piece the strips together. This is the second quilt I'm hoping to get to quilt top stage by January 1. I think this one will be easy to get together by then, it's the Blooming Nine Patch I'm not sure about. At least I'm almost halfway on the Blooming Nine Patch!

I had some quilt blocks already cut out that I'm using as leaders/enders right now. Assembling a quilt that is 31x31 blocks is quite a bit more complicated than most of the quilts I make. Most of my big quilts are 12x12 blocks. Granted this quilt I'm currently assembling has little 3" blocks, but it's still a lot to wrap my head around, and I am nervous I'll switch something around.

I am determined to only use UFO's as my leaders/enders right now. I don't care if I'm taking units and making those into blocks, or even assembling blocks into quilt tops, but I will not start a new project right now. I have way too much to finish to want to start anything.

Well, that's what I've gotten done the last few days, but the next few days? Tomorrow I'm going to see some of my grandkids in a school performance. Thursday I can sew. Friday I'm babysitting other grandkids. Saturday DH is off and my main job will be to repair a quilt so I can put it on the guest bed. Sunday I'll be going to DD#1's church to see her kids recite, and she and her husband will be singing. Christmas Day I should be able to sew as I wish, since DH is working and no one should be coming over.

Christmas came early for DH. He's been saving for quite a while, but was just a little short to buy a used motorcycle. Instead of me buying him something for Christmas, we agreed to use that money to throw him over what he needed, and now he's one happy rider!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Back to Quilts

I'm finished the Christmas sewing I still planned on doing. I had other things I wanted to make, but my arm is throwing fits, not healing at all like I had hoped, so I have to be careful on how much I try to do. In fact, I am icing my arm as I type this. I've got the ice pack strapped on so I can use both hands.

Since I've finished the Christmas stuff I am making, I'm back to quilts now. I finished up the last units for DD#3's wedding quilt this week, and I've just started assembling the top.

It's a barn raising layout, so making big blocks doesn't really work. The units are only 3", so assembling the top is a big job. It will be 31 units by 31 units plus a border. I am laying out one fourth of the quilt at a time, then I'll assemble that before laying out any more.

I only got half of this fourth assembled today, and my arm is done, done, done! I stacked the remaining rows neatly, and I'll work on them this weekend as I can.

After I finished the Christmas sewing, I looked at the date on the calendar, and made a goal of assembling this wedding quilt, along with one of my niece's (her quilt is simpler and smaller) before January 1st. I may have to settle for just assembling this quilt top. I keep thinking I'm making smaller quilting goals, but my arm keeps telling me not small enough.

I, of course, also have a leader/ender project going. I had a container of bonus HST's that were demanding to be put to use. These HST's will finish at 1.25", so pretty small. My container was overflowing, and these are from multiple projects over the past few years. Once a container is full, it's time to do something with it, so I came up with an idea, which since morphed into something else, but today I drafted it in EQ7.

Right now I am only working on sewing all these bonus HST's into the little nine patches. Once I'm done that, I'll cut what I need to make the blocks, then eventually cut the sashing to assemble the quilt. I don't know how big the quilt will end up being, I'm just sewing up as many nine patch blocks as I can with the HST's I want to use. Once I have those done, I can figure out how many blocks I can make. I'm debating doing the sashing and cornerstones scrappy, but it was faster in EQ to just do it as a constant. I'll have to audition a few options once the blocks are made.

Here are some of my real-life bonus HST's turned into nine patches. This project doesn't have a deadline or anything, it's just an easy thing to grab to use as leaders/enders right now.

Now that my arm is well-iced, I am good to make DH more granola, and while it's in the oven, I'll be paying bills. Fun stuff!

Thursday, December 7, 2017


I feel like I'm playing leapfrog these days, jumping from project to project. I'm trying to stick with UFO's or deadline things, but it's the holiday season, so there are other things to be done as well.

We had our rescheduled Thanksgiving dinner this week. This isn't all of our family, but it was a decent turnout. Everyone in state made it! The weather was phenomenal, and we ate outside. Today I finally had to turn the heat on, it's finally cooled off in Southern Arizona. The perspective of this photo is wonky, DH is actually the tallest person in the photo, but he looks like one of the shorter ones. DH and I are in the back right, I'm wearing purple, DH has a white and blue baseball shirt on.

After a couple days of cooking, a day of socializing, and another day of clean-up, I finally got to work on the grandkids Chrismas gifts. I hunted down a vintage pattern to make something I had as a little girl. When I got the pattern, I realized it was published the year I was born.

I'm not putting up photos of what I'm making until after they are gifted on December 29th. We're moving Christmas as well as Thanksgiving. DH works every Christmas. If you look at he name of this post, you'll know what I'm making though... I hope to have them all finished by the end of this weekend.

As I'm working with vintage patterns, and some vintage fabrics, I'm also busting some vintage threads. If I can give the thread a good tug and it doesn't break, I figure it's still usable. Check out the price on this, marked down to 10 for $1.00 or 10 cents a spool! Crazy! It was also Made in the USA, which makes me smile. It seems like so few things are made here anymore.

Friday, December 1, 2017


‘‘Tis the deck the halls!

I didn’t make anything new to deck my halls with, but I’ve been busy making stuff for both DD#1 and DD#3. I just finished the last of it about 30 minutes ago.

This is DD#3 Christmas tree skirt made from men’s shirts and denim.

Here are the stockings I made to match the tree skirt. 

Did you notice the braided denim on the cuff? It’s actually belt loop fabric that I bought braided on eBay years ago. 

Here is DD#1’s Christmas tree skirt. 

...and the matching stockings I made. 

I made two more stockings for our house. Growing families means more stockings for Christmas celebrations at Nana and Pappy’s house. 

Now that all the decorative stuff is done, I can start making the grandkid’s Christmas presents. I’ve seriously reduced my to do list because of my arm, but I still have one thing per grandkid I’d like to make. 

Our family Thanksgiving got moved to this Sunday because of sickness, so I’ll be cooking tomorrow to get ready for Sunday. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Tin Lizzie

Finally, I got to sew on my new sit down longarm, the Tin Lizzie! Funny thing is, I didn’t expect any sewing time at all this weekend, but due to sickness in two families, we’ve rescheduled Thanksgiving dinner to December 3rd.

So, how did I like quilting on the Tin Lizzie? I LOVED IT!!!

I started out by watching this YouTube video. I find it so much easier to learn how to thread and oil a new machine if I can watch a video. This video answered a lot of questions for me, and I learned so much!

I needed two different colored bobbins, one for each Christmas tree skirt I’m making. Once I got those made, I threaded the machine and went for it.

It’s been quite a while since I did any FMQ, so I’m opting for a meander. I was using Madeira Polyneon 40 wt thread and I had no problems whatsoever. The tension was perfect, no thread issues, it was just a joy to be quilting again. I am so thankful I was able to get the Tin Lizzie, because I can already tell it’s going to make quilting a big quilt so much easier!

I did finish quilting this tree skirt, but didn’t take a photo. I’ll do that when I’ve got the binding on.

My arm was hurting after a bit of quilting, but I have a slow healing injury so I expected that. I talked with DH, and I’m not going to quilt anything large until I get Patsy Thompson’s quilt suspension system. I also want to buy a queen sized Supreme Slider, which will also help with drag. For the tree skirts it’s not a big deal, but for a big quilt both of those will help a lot. The quilt suspension system and the Supreme Slider are what I need to make quilting easier on my arm, but I need one more thing to make it easier on my eyes.

I knew I would not find the lighting on the Tin Lizzie adequate, and I was right about that. It was really the only reason I debated so long between the Handiquilter and the Tin Lizzie. I was not interested in the type of stitch regulator the sit down Handiquilter has, and I started FMQ without stitch regulation, so I wasn’t too worried about not having it. It mostly came down to lighting and price. Lighting is better on the Handiquilter, but the Tin Lizzie was significantly less expensive. Today I found an LED flexible light bar that should fix my lighting issues for $30. I’ll take before and after photos once I get the light bar so you can see if I’m right about fixing the lighting problems. Since the Tin Lizzie was 2k less expensive, a $30 light kit is not a problem.

The Tin Lizzie is much quieter than I expected it to be, it’s easy to use, and I had no drama whatsoever on my first time using it. I hope to have many years with my Lizzie!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Beach Find

I was gone most of the last week, so no sewing was accomplished. One of my niece’s was getting married in Malibu, and I was thrilled we got to attend.

All my nieces are beautiful, but this one was especially lovely on her wedding day.

After the wedding, DH and I headed down to Oceanside, CA to enjoy some time at the beach without as much traffic as the LA area.

We saw some gorgeous sunsets, pretty drastically different from day to day. 

We hit a couple thrift stores in Oceanside, and I bought three rolls of fabric for a total of $30.

This tag was on the fabric far right. The roll was full, and did indeed have 50 yards of fabric on it. The middle roll might have been full, or possibly had just a couple yards off of it, but the roll far left has about ten yards on it. So, I got over 100 yards of cotton fabric for $30, or less than 30 cents per yard. The prints are out of style, but I’m thinking they will be fine for quilt backings. 

I wanted to wash all this fabric, but washing 50 yards at once wasn’t going to happen. When I buy quilt backings, I tend to buy 120” wide backings, because a lot of my quilts run 108-110” square. With that in mind, I am cutting all this fabric into 120” lengths, knowing that I can piece it back together if I need to, but the shorter lengths make washing all this fabric much easier. 

If anyone is near Oceanside, California, I didn’t buy all the fabric rolls they had, and if you are into garment making they had some 98 yard rolls of knits, still at $10 per roll. I believe it was the DAV thrift store, but we went to several that day. Some people may think it was excessive to buy as much fabric as I did, I think I showed great restraint. There were other rolls of cotton as well as all the garment fabric, so the fact I limited it to three rolls, was good for me. Since all of the rolls I bought have neutral backgrounds, I think they’ll do fine as quilt backs. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hot Mess

While some things are going great in my life, other areas are a hot mess, and it’s just that reason I am so enjoying working with strings right now.

When some quilters make string blocks, they are actually working with strips. Strips are even cuts with nice edges. I am working with strings, uneven cuts, rejects of the scrap user system than can’t be cut into any of the sizes I save. They are wonky cuts, possible leftovers from cutting strips from scraps, weird sizes and shapes that don’t fit anything. If I’m lucky it’s just a WOF cut to straighten up an edge before cutting strips from yardage.

Right now I’m working with strings from recycled fabrics, men’s shirts I’ve cut up to scrap user system sizes, and what doesn’t work for that goes into the string bucket. I’ve got quite the oddball pieces in here. Collars, cuffs, odd leftover bits that I can’t get a strip from. My personal favorite? The odd bits left from cutting out a stain! I’m not using the stained part, but around it, that’s good fabric!

I always use some type of foundation when string piecing. Most of the time, that foundation is paper. I will cover a square of paper with strings, then square it up before removing the paper. Right now, I’m covering 15 degree wedges cut from Golden Threads paper, so I can make a Christmas tree skirt. I’m also using Warm and Natural batting as a foundation for string Christmas stockings.

String blocks, stockings, wedges, anything, always start out looking like a hot mess.

 Hot mess! Look at those wonky pieces!

Hey, look, it’s a stocking and kind of cute!

Hot mess!

Two sides of a stocking, not bad!

Hot mess on the left. Use the wedge ruler to neaten things up, and hey, that could be used for something fun!

Just like these shapes made up of wonky bits, I'm hoping the areas of my life that are a hot mess will get neatened up and be a part of something good in the end. Until then, I'll make order from bits of fabric, and dream of happy endings.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Off Week

Boy, do I wish I could say I had a really productive week, and finished up all those Christmas stockings! I wish I could say that, but I can’t, because I didn’t. This has been a pretty emotionally driven week, and I didn’t get much done at all. I have gotten on a more even keel now, and I’m hoping for a productive weekend since DH works all weekend.

This is what I did work on this week. I cut out a Weed Whacker quilt when I cut out the Waterfall quilt. I had so many 2” blue strips I needed a couple big quilts to put a dent in them. I’m double sewing the corners so I get a nice pile of bonus HSTs to play with. The container on the left has the bonus HSTs, the container on the right has the units I need for the Weed Whacker quilt. I had sewed all the blue strips into pairs while I was working on the Waterfall quilt, and this week, since I was rather out of sorts, sewing on lines for knocked off corners was a good, easy thing to do. I’m not finished making units, this is about 2/3 of the units I need to make. I’ve been debating what pattern I’d like to do with the bonus HSTs, but I am still undecided. I don’t need the units for a border, because I already made a piano key border for the Weed Whacker quilt. Did I mention I had a LOT of blue 2” strips???

I tried starting the string stockings I’m making with men’s shirts, but I realized I need to press the shirt strings first. The shirt strings are so wonky and so wrinkled I just can’t deal with both issues and get a good flat stocking without pressing first. As soon as I post this, that’s what I’m heading to do, press a decent amount of shirt strings so I can string piece tomorrow with no drama. I’m really careful to not wrinkle my pre-cut strips, but I tend to just cram strings into boxes. Most of the time with quilting fabric I can get away with that, but these recycled fabrics aren’t being as forgiving, so rather than fight with them as I sew, I’ll just take the time to press them now. I’m hoping to finish the units for Weed Whacker as leaders/enders while I string piece stockings. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Christmas Sewing

You’d think I’d start Christmas sewing by making the gifts, but instead, I’m starting with the decorations. 

Here is a close-up of one of the stockings I string pieced. DD#1 wants her Christmas decorations in a green, purple, silver color scheme.  

And this is what I got done this week!  I need to make a couple more stockings for our house as well, I’ve got 18 stockings to fill this year!  I’ll also be making stockings for DD#3’s family. I decided I’d string piece all the fronts and backs, then deal with assembly. When I string piece stockings, I use Warm and Natural batting scraps and foundation piece directly on the batting. 

I’m making Flying Geese units as leaders/Enders while I work on string piecing. I’ve got enough flying geese made for several blocks, and that gave me an idea for another quilt which I started cutting for today. I really need to be careful cutting because of my arm, but my arm is much better now! I plan on whittling down my string stash next year, and flying geese units are such a good leader/ender for string blocks I’m planning to piece the almost 2,000 flying geese I’ll need while I’m string piecing. 

My determination to work on strings next year came from working on the stockings. I have my strings separated by color, and when I took the purple string container out, the lid was on tight. After making all those stockings, everything got fluffed up and now the lid won’t fit back on!  I didn’t add anything to the container, but that’s the way strings are, they only seem to multiply, not go down...besides, I love string piecing, so working on string quilts and finishing UFOs will be my priority next year!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Slow Progress Is Still Progress

My arm is not hurting nearly as much as it was, but the numbness is not better. I'm still taking things very slowly, and if I can avoid surgery, that will be great! 

My to do list is getting longer and longer, and there's not too much I can do about that right now. This week I cut out all but one of the Christmas gifts I hope to make for the grandkids. I really needed some sewing time, for sanity's sake, so I had a couple play days where I worked on some blocks that just don't matter. 

I made nine of these blocks, completely scrappy and not for anything specific. I have a bunch more of these pinned up and ready to sew. I finished the colorway of nine patches I've been working on for DD#3's wedding quilt too. Two more colorways of nine patches to sew up and then I can assemble the top!

Mr. LJ (DD#2's son) is getting so big! Hard to believe he turns 1 next month. My mom made him that blue teddy bear, and he's started dragging it around with him everywhere. Isn't it great when handmade things are loved so much!

School photos came back for the grandtwins. I got to spend a lot of time with these two last week because it was fall break. 

I'm going to keep on doing what I can, and I'm spending a lot of time thinking of ways to make things easier on my arm. Right now my sewing priorities are Christmas related, and when I get those finished, I'll ease my way back into quilting. 

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...