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...

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!