Thursday, June 22, 2017

Starting on the Backlog

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bounty, Beauty, and Birthdays

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

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


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

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


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



Still past my shoulders...


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bibs for Baby

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Making My Own Rules

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

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


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

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


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

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

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sewing is Happening Finally!

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Looking Up

Things are starting to look up around here! I am still not all the way well, but better than last week. I've been working on getting the house organized as I have energy. I finished the living room today, so one room is done! 


The corner of the living room that had DH's office shoved into it is now open and airy. My grandmother's treadle is in the corner next to the quilt rack.


My wall of fabric is now a corner of fabric in the family room. These are Billy bookshelves from Ikea, and I bought one extra set of shelves and some corner hardware, and now all my quilting books are with the fabric. The family room is becoming a family room once again, though it's had many purposes over the years. DS the Younger and DDIL put together a new TV stand for me in here, and instead of standard furniture, I ordered Fuf bean bag style couches for in here. The grandkids should love it! They don't arrive until next week.


The storage room is coming along. My plastic drawers with fat quarter to one yard pieces ended up in here for now. My vintage machines are in here now too, except for the treadles. I have several more things to move into here, but I'm moving slowly these days. I'm glad this room got painted before the carpet went in. I was really tired of it being blue and purple. 

My bedroom is almost back to normal, which is great! My kitchen is a disaster area, and that I hope to tackle next week. Tomorrow I'm hoping to work in the guest room and kids guest room. The twin sized beds for the kids guest room arrived today, and I bought sheets and pillows for those beds today. If I can sweet talk DS the Younger into assembling the bed frames for me, I can make those beds, and have that room looking like a real room again. 

I've been sorting out what things I needed to buy after the mass exodus, and it's a lot, but I have a handle on it now. I'm trying hard not to overbuy, but still have the guest rooms be practical. I opted to not buy any dressers, I don't see why a short term guest would need one, but I did make sure I have lamps, linens, and towels for anyone who comes to stay. My walls are pretty barren, and I might look for something to put on the walls in the adult guest room at least. All in all, I've successfully repurposed a lot of things, and I've managed to purchase what we needed for less than we allotted for it, so I'm happy. I doubt I'll be sewing for a couple weeks yet, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel! Sewing time is coming! 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Flooring, Failing, and Flu

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans"? I hope He's getting a chuckle out of this, because I overplanned, and I'm failing at them all.

That bridal shower I talked about in the last post, yeah, that didn't happen. It was cancelled due to influenza Type A. My grandson tested positive for it at the emergency room, surprising the doctor who said flu season had passed. I guess we missed that memo. DD#3 was next to get sick, followed by me, and next her new husband. Nothing says welcome to the family like germ-sharing, right?

We needed new flooring installed in our house. It was supposed to take 2.5 days. It took four (after we found out they did drywall too and we added to their workload). This is day five, and the stairs we had refinished are still wet, so 2/3 of the house is off limits. DH is hopeful the stairs will be dry by tomorrow, but I'm guessing Sunday, which is when the birthday party was supposed to be.

I'm sick with something, though I'm not sure it's influenza. No sore throat, which is a main symptom, and I had about 24 hours of major mucus drainage which is not a symptom of influenza. I do know I've run low grade fevers off and on, I'm coughing, achy, and mainly I have NO energy. DH and I went to Target to get some things, as I woke up thinking I was better, and when we got back I went straight to bed for a nap. OK, maybe better was too optimistic.

Now the birthday party is postponed two weeks, my house is still a disaster, and MY DDIL and DS the Younger arrive Monday with their two dogs. DDIL is such a sweetheart, and I am so happy she'll be staying with us while DS the Younger is deployed.

Did I mention my house was a disaster?


My new bedroom looks like this.


Dining Area


Living Room

Not to mention every tub and shower in the house is loaded with stuff, the furniture still left upstairs and downstairs is all in the wrong places, and until the stairs dry, there isn't a thing I can do to fix that.

Not that I particularly feel up to sewing anyway, but with my sewing cabinet buried that wasn't going to happen anyway. I did start de-boning some of the men's shirts I bought on that thrift store shopping spree. Shirts take up so much less space with the seams all cut off. I won't get them done right now, I've got almost 100 shirts to cut up, but you have to start someplace. 


Here is the new flooring in the pantry, the only new flooring on the main floor of the house. DH put in new baseboard today, so I can start putting stuff back in here now. This same flooring went in the downstairs bathroom. I knew there were two layers of flooring on top of each other in the downstairs bath, and I warned the flooring guy accordingly. The thing is, there were FOUR layers of flooring on top of each other, and I had no idea! Now there is only one layer of flooring in the downstairs bath. I still haven't even seen the downstairs bath, I was too sick to drag myself downstairs to look before they started refinishing the stairs. 

If it weren't for the addition, we'd have to stay in a hotel. With the stairs out of commission until they are dry, without the addition we'd have no bathroom or bedroom.  As inconvenient as having 2/3 of our house off limits is, and as inconvenient everyone being sick and cancelling/postponing two parties is, it still could have been worse. On the bright side, once everything is put to rights, it should stay that way for about a year, which around here, is a long time!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Potholders, Weddings, and LOTS of Moving

I know it's a weird title, but it is exactly what's going on in my life right now! I've been working on potholders for a bridal shower that will be this coming Sunday.


Here is a shot of the fronts and backs of the potholders I'm making. Potholders as a shower prize may be a bit odd, but it suits the theme we are using. It's a pinup/50's housewife party!

The oddest thing about the shower isn't the prizes or the theme. The oddest thing is the fact that the bridal shower is occurring after the wedding! We weren't sure of the date of the wedding, but we knew about when it was happening and planned the shower close to the time of the wedding, we just guessed too late.

DD#3 is now married, and currently relocating to their new house. The closing on the house they bought was what was determining the wedding date, so it was a bit up in the air.


Here is the new family on their wedding day! This photo is good, but my favorite is the next one.


I just love the way Mr. L is looking at his stepdad, and father/son feel of it. The girls are looking ahead doing what they are supposed to be doing, but the boys have their own thing going on!

We've got all of the twins stuff moved to the new house, but DD#3 still has quite a bit here. By the end of the week, it will be moved too.

AND there is more moving going on, because DD#1 and her family are moving out this weekend! So while I am getting ready for a bridal shower, they will be moving out too.

While the house is as empty as it's going to be, we are getting new carpet installed next week, so I'll be moving everything around that's left in the house to allow new flooring to be put in eight rooms and two hallways. I have to move my stuff around both before and after the new flooring is done, then my DDIL moves in with her two dogs while DS the Younger is deployed. Within two weeks, we go from a household of ten people and a cat, to a household of three people and two dogs! Did I mention LOTS of moving?

DH and I drove up to Phoenix today to get a dining room set that DD#2 has been saving for DD#1's family. We managed to get some baby snuggles while we were there.


Mr. LJ is growing by leaps and bounds, five months old already!

My MIL just moved too, and we need to get a few things that she's passing to us out of her way. Isn't that the way family should work, everyone passing things around as people need them? So much going on, but quieter days are on the horizon, they just aren't here quite yet!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thrifty or Nuts?

I haven't sewn at all since my last post. The polyester batting scraps are still laid on my sewing cabinet waiting to be sewn together.

If I haven't been sewing, what have I been doing? Well, DH and I just had our 33rd anniversary, and we went out of town for 5 days! It was great to spend some time together just the two of us, something that rarely happens around here. I read five books, relaxed in the hot tub, we drove all around northern AZ, and we went to thrift stores, lots of thrift stores. 

DD#3 was really needing some new clothes, and I found her about 2 dozen new shirts, and four pairs of shorts/capris. I bought the twins about a dozen new clothing items too. DD#1's family ended up with a couple dozen items as well. 

Now when I go on a big thrift store buying binge, I'm looking for clothes for family members, quilting fabric, and 100% cotton men's shirts to use for quilting. If I happen upon a vintage sewing machine or accessories I want, that may end up in the basket too.

If you have a Goodwill Outlet near you, and you are on a tight budget, try looking there for quilting fabric and 100% cotton item of clothing or bedding. I've bought duvet covers and sheets to use for quilt backs with great results. Any Goodwill store can net you some cheaper fabric, but the outlet stores are a whole other world of savings. We went to the one in Flagstaff, AZ, and you pay $1.69 per pound for clothing, and 50 cents per pound for linens.


Here I am with my shopping cart filled with goodies. How much for all of that? $86 That wasn't the only thrift store we went to though. I'm pretty strict on budget when I'm buying men's shirts for quilting. My personal limit is $2 per shirt. We went into some thrift stores that were asking $9 per shirt, and in those I didn't buy a thing. I went into one thrift store that charges $1 per shirt, and I picked out 14 shirts at that store. When I went to pay, I found out if you buy more than 10 items, they only charge half price, so I paid 50 cents per shirt!


I found a few pieces of yardage on my shopping spree. This is about 12 yards total, mostly flannels.

All tolled, I spent about $200, and I got 201 items for that. I let my SIL's go through the men's shirts and take whatever they wanted.


This is what I've got left right now. I'll probably pull a few shirts out for DH, but in this stack I have 97 shirts, all 100% cotton. I've already washed them, and they are ready to cut apart to use in quilting. 

Included in that 201 total, I found three sets of towels with matching bath mats for DD#3 to use when she gets married. I found something we're giving to my MIL for Mother's Day. DH bought a few cd's and a book. I found a buttonhole attachment for my slant shank Singers. 

Thrift store and antique stores are the only type of shopping I really enjoy. Going to a mall is torture for me, and all I see at those box stores is how everything looks the same. I'm not a trendy type of person, and I could care less what's fashionable at any given time. I like what I like, and if that's been out of fashion for 10 years or 70 years, makes no difference to me. You never know what you'll find at a thrift store or an antique store. The shop could be a dud, or a treasure trove. Of course, whether it's a dud or treasure trove depends on what you are looking for. Someone else's favorite shop may have little that interests me, and vice versa. 

I did find multiple vintage machines, a Pfaff that was really tempting, and a Singer 201 with perfect decals, a few Kenmore's and a couple badged machines I had never heard of. DH was willing to buy me a couple vintage machines, but I said no. I'm not expecting to have my sewing room back for another year, and while I'm sewing in my bedroom, it's harder to swap out machines. I am thinking come July or so, I should have quite a bit of quilting time again, so buying fabric wasn't as much of a no-no than buying more vintage machines. At least I'll have a chance at using some of the fabric soon. 

Now that I'm back home, I'm trying to figure out what to work on, when I have time to work on things. DD#2 and I are planning DD#3's bridal shower, and I have things to do for that. I am helping both DD#1 and DD#3 pack things, going through my stuff to see what I've got that can help them set up their own houses. 

Of course it's almost Easter, and we're hosting an Easter brunch at our house. I've already bought the goodies for Easter baskets, and the plastic eggs are already stuffed. We'll be dying eggs on Saturday, to be turned into deviled eggs on Sunday! I'm finalizing the menu and working on the grocery list for the holiday meal. 

It's really going to be a busy few weeks around here. I'm hosting Easter, throwing a big birthday bash and hosting a bridal shower all in the next three weeks. I'll have people moving in and people moving out, and hopefully, we'll have time to get the carpeting replaced during the chaos. I'll be rearranging the house in May, and figuring out what needs to happen for the new normal. Never a dull moment around here!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Batting Cage

What do you do with your batting scraps? I know a lot of people toss them, and if they are really skinny I  do too. I have heard of people using them for Swiffer cloths, or only piecing them for small projects but not large ones. 

My batting scraps? Well first of all, I store all the scraps in a pop up hamper, thus caging it. You can stuff a LOT of batting scraps in a pop up hamper, trust me on this! When it's full, it's time to deal with the mess. I divide the batting by type, cotton, polyester, or wool. 

Once it's divided, I cut each length into even strips. My personal limit is 2" wide strips for cotton batting, and 3" wide strips for polyester or wool batting. If it's any smaller than that, it should have been tossed in the trash instead of the batting hamper. I do cut the strips as wide as I can get from the scrap, but since most have been cut with scissors when I trimmed a quilt, it's usually uneven. 


Here are my polyester batting scraps cut into strips. At this point, any uneven bits get tossed. I'm not into making dog beds or stuffed animals, so out it goes. 

This week, I started with my cotton batting scraps, and I ended up with two throw sized battings. I love Warm and Natural batting precisely because it's so easy to piece the scraps together. I feel like I get to use every bit of it. 

I haven't started piecing my polyester batting scraps yet, I just got them all trimmed today. The narrower pieces I will piece into batting for some placemats I'm making, and the larger pieces will get pieced into larger battings. 

I've seen lots of different ways to piece batting together. There are fusibles you can use, but I'm cheap and don't want to spend money on fusibles to piece batting. I've seen people cut wavy lines so you can't find the edges in the finished project. Let me tell you a little secret. I've pieced dozens of battings, all with straight edges, and I have never, ever been able to feel the stitching in the finished project! I wouldn't use a pieced batting for a tied project, but if it will be quilted, nothing should shift, and the zig zag I piece it with should have no strain on it after quilting. 

I've tried overlapping edges, which I know some people like, but I don't prefer that, I prefer just butting the edges together, and using a zig zag stitch to sew the strips together. I use cheap thread to do this, no need to be wasting high quality thread on this project. 


This is my presser foot of choice for joining batting scraps. It's the Bernina #5 foot, but if you don't have a Bernina, just check to see if you can get a Blind Hem Foot, since that's what this is. I'm not doing a blind hem, but if you notice that "blade" of sorts running down the center of the foot, that's what I butt the batting up to, one piece on each side, and then it zig zags over each side equally. 


With the presser foot flipped around, you can see the "blade" goes back a little bit, and the stitches are actually formed over that section. This is perfect for joining batting because you'll likely want to use a wide zigzag, and because the stitches are formed over that bar, they are a little looser and you'll get no puckers or pulling!

Tomorrow I'll be starting to piece all these polyester batting scraps. I'm going to have the tackle the wool scraps at another time, because I need to get these placemats done, but I'll have time to deal with all the polyester scraps first. It doesn't really take that long to piece up some battings from scraps, and how cool is it to end up with what feels like free batting???


Here is Mr LJ, snuggling with a bear my mom made for him. He had been fussing, and DD#2 said he calmed right down when she gave him the bear. He must have known it was made with love by his great-grandmother! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

First Finish of 2017!!!

This was seeming to be the quilt that never ends. It wasn't really the quilt's fault, it was more the interruptions that never end. At any rate, it's finally finished!


This quilt is for my youngest granddaughter, and her mom and I were debating binding color. I had planned on purple, but grabbed some yellow on a whim, and I prefer the yellow. 


You can see I went askew when I laid out the backing for  pinbasting. No harm, no foul in my book, I had enough excess backing that I didn't run into problems, so I'm not going to fret over it. No photos do these fabrics justice, the colors are stunning in person. I had some border fabric from this line, and since I changed my plans on the front of the quilt, I decided the backing was a great place to use that border fabric up. A large scale border fabric like this was likely to languish in my stash, and it's better used than stashed indefinitely. 

Although I have a bunch of quilts to make, I'm going to be working on some small projects for a bit. I have several things in the mending pile, and I hope to tackle all those in the next day or so. Then I'll be making some simple placemats and potholders for DD#1 so she'll have some when they move out. The placemats are already cut out, I'm just using rectangles of novelty fabrics. I was hoping to use up some batting scraps on the placemats, so I'll have to piece some batting together to use with those. 

I'm hoping getting some small projects done will get me back in the swing of things. There are still lots of interruptions around here, both daily stuff and bigger things. I'm planning a bridal shower for April, and a big birthday party for May. There will be people moving out, a wedding, work on the house, then someone moving in all in the next couple months! Never a dull moment around here!


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

STRESS

I know I haven't blogged in almost a month, but I like to keep this mainly on quilting, and I have been too stressed to sew. It's pretty bad when you are so stressed, you can't do the thing that is most likely to relieve some stress.

BUT...yesterday I made myself do some sewing. I STILL haven't finished quilting Miss A's fairy quilt, and the quilting on it is simple. I was bound and determined to get some quilting on it, and then I spread it out to get a feel how it's looking.


You can see the only basting pins left are along the bottom. I finished quilting the top yesterday.


I tried to get a good angle on the quilting, so you can see how much texture that giant spiral adds, as compared to the unquilted section. I used a washable wool batting, and I am always so impressed with wool batting. The quilt still feels pretty soft, even with this dense quilting on it.

Now that I can see how much/little there is left to quilt, I'm hoping I can get the quilting finished this week. I know if I got a quilt finished, it would give me a much needed boost.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love Is in the Air Shopping Spree

I have been trying so hard to keep quilty purchases to a minimum! Well, I blew that in a big way, but everything has a purpose, so I'm not going to fret over it. 

DD#3 is newly engaged. I still haven't managed to make DS the elder's wedding quilt, but I'll just use DD#3's wedding quilt as the leader/ender for his. I bought the fabrics for DD#3's quilt, but I'll add a couple from stash.


I'll be adding in a couple of lighter shades, but she wants the quilt pretty dark, and all jewel tones. 


This is the pattern I'm planning for those fabrics. It's a radiant nine patch.

One of my niece's just got married in December. I had no heads up on that one. She did a funky urban wedding photo shoot, and it gave me an idea for a modern quilt for her. I found this fat quarter bundle that will be great for it.


Another of my niece's just announced her engagement, and after talking with her, I decided on a bargello quilt, and I found the fabrics for her quilt as well.


She wanted green and red, and I was trying to avoid it looking too Christmas-y. Hopefully when it's done I'll be happy with it. This will be my first bargello quilt, and I picked an easy version of one.

I now have a pretty full quilting schedule for 2017, and I STILL haven't finished the quilt I was working on! It's been crazy around here, and right now DS the Elder is visiting with his wife and son, so it's extra busy. Meals for 13 take a lot of time!

I plan on sewing DS the Elder and DD#3's wedding quilts as leaders/enders for each other, and I'll likely do the same for my two niece's quilts. I'm not sure how well a bargello will work as a leader/ender, but the modern quilt will be a good one to use as a leader/ender project. 

DH is still hoping I get a quilt made for our bed soon, but we'll have to see how things go. One of our close friends just got married too, so five wedding quilts, plus a quilt for our bed is a LOT! I'm thinking I'll have more sewing time the second half of this year, but for now, it's hard to come by. In some ways, it's not bad that three of the couples got married with no notice. Since they are already married, the quilt is already late, and in that case the pressure is off a bit. In cases like that, I usually aim for the second anniversary. 

I know it's been a month since I blogged, but what a month it's been! Our furnace broke, and even here in Southern Arizona, the house temp was down to 48F. Our furnace and air conditioner unit were both old, so we had them both replaced, but now we need to replace the ductwork too. We're still waiting on estimates for that job. 

As if that wasn't enough going on, our washing machine broke too, but thankfully it was still under warranty. Our washing machine has probably done more laundry in the last four years than most people's ever do. I can't really complain about the washer having parts wear out. 

That's some of what's been going on in my life. It certainly hasn't been boring!



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Round and Round She Goes!

Since my soft books were finished, I started actually quilting a quilt! There was one deadline quilt from 2016 I didn't get finished, but it was pin-basted and ready to quilt, so that's what I chose to work on next. 

It is a quilt for my youngest granddaughter, Miss A, the red-headed wonder! I knew I wanted to use silver thread to quilt it, and I had that, so no problem, but I was struggling to choose a quilting design. I didn't want to meander, but it's pretty chaotic in the house right now, so I needed something pretty easy. I've been seeing quilts with one big spiral quilted on them, and I wanted to try that, so that's what I chose.


I chose the star this fairy is looking at as my center, and I started the spiral free motion. Once I had a few rounds I switched to a walking foot. LOTS of turning the quilt, though as I work my way out that is easier. It's actually a perfect design to quilt when you are stressed. When I'm FMQ I do best if I have a block of time to quilt, and I get in the groove of quilting whatever design I'm stitching out. With this design, I'm just using the edge of my walking foot as my guide, and I can switch on the machine, stitch for 5 minutes or an hour, whatever time I've got, and switch the machine off.


It's pretty fun watching the spiral grow, and I'm now getting close to the edges on the side. Once I get to the edges, I'll just be working on the top and bottom of the quilt separately, and eventually just in each corner. I'm happy with how it's coming out, and I'll definitely be quilting a spiral again. 

I was a little worried about quilting a quilt with my new sewing set up. I normally put my sewing cabinet in a corner of a room so the back of the cabinet and the left hand side are up against walls. I find quilting a large quilt on my DSM much easier if I don't have the quilt falling off the edges of my sewing cabinet causing drag. With our new bedroom, the only way I could place the sewing cabinet in my preferred orientation would have blocked a doorway. DH was strongly opposed to blocking a doorway, so I needed a different solution. 


I ended up buying a set of shelves with nine cubbyholes. Three of those are stuck behind my ironing station, but that's OK, because I stuck things in them I'm not likely to need very often. I purposely bought shelves taller than my sewing cabinet, but not wider, because I didn't want them sticking out into the room, I just wanted them to stop the quilt from falling off the sewing cabinet. 


So far, so good, and it's working like I hoped it would. It won't be really tested until I quilt a really large quilt, but this one is about a full sized quilt, (twin bedspread) and it's doing fine.

It could take a couple more weeks to finish the quilting, I don't always have much sewing time available, but the big spiral is a great option when you can only quilt a few minutes at a time. 

Of course, I could have a extra time to sew if my washing machine isn't easily fixable. It's making an awful high pitched whine, and the repairman couldn't come until Friday. It's under warranty, so I'm not too worried about it. Over the phone their guess was the bearings are going out. Our washer and dryer are over four years old, and they've already done more laundry than some washer/dryers ever do. I'm hoping they can fix it Friday, but we'll see. I'm babying it along right now, doing some small loads, and waiting on whatever can wait. 

My goal for 2017 is to quilt one UFO for every deadline quilt. All my current quilts are technically UFO's since they were started in an earlier year, but I'm counting Miss A's quilt as a deadline quilt. I've already chosen the next quilt to quilt, which is a UFO, and is already pin-basted. I am really hoping to stick with the deadline quilt/UFO/deadline quilt/UFO pattern. I'm fine having a few UFO's, but I'm not comfortable with how many I have right now, so concentrating on catching up now is a good idea. I won't finish my UFO's this year, but if I can finish 2017 with less than I have now, I'll count that as a win!


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Story Time

I've had a bunch of different reactions to the fact we have two grown daughters and their families living with us. I've had the, "Oh, you are so blessed to have so many together like that!" all the way to, "I'd never let my kids move back in, you're nuts!" 

Honestly, things range drastically day to day. We have really sweet moments like this.


DH is reading four of the five grandkids living here a story. It was really sweet, and quiet for a few minutes.

Some days are more like this...


Overall, I'm happy things have worked as well as they have, and I know this situation isn't forever. 

I think the thing that's been most difficult is finding time for DH and I to spend quality time together. He's been working a lot, I'm being pulled in multiple directions, and when we are together, it's most likely a trip to the grocery store!

DH said he wanted a whole day with me, so Tuesday, we took a day trip, and had some real quality time together, with no one tagging along. We went to see the sandhill cranes that are wintering here in AZ. We went to Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area south of Wilcox. There are thousands of cranes there, along with some snow geese, and multiple varieties of ducks.





I had no idea how noisy cranes could be, but in big groups like this, they make quite a racket! I heard the geese honking too, but the ducks were mostly quiet, just a bit of quacking as they took off in flight. DH took some great pics, but you are stuck with mine ;-) The birdwatchers there said there would be far more cranes there in February.

While we were out and about, we went though a bunch of little towns, cruised along the Mexican border for a bit, ate a fantastic lunch in Bisbee (dates filled with blue cheese and cinnamon roasted almonds, wrapped in bacon, AMAZING!) It was just a lovely day, with some much needed time to reconnect. 

On Wednesday, I finished the first project of 2017!


All those soft books I was working on are finished!!! I have one of each set aside for Mr. LJ, and the duplicates are in the gift cabinet. I try to keep baby gifts on hand at all times. 

Today is the twins birthday, I can hardly believe they are six years old! We already celebrated their birthday, and they are at school today anyway. I took the time to weed out some of their toys. It's time to pass some down the grandchild pipeline. Birthdays near Christmas can be pretty overwhelming, so regular cleaning out of toys they don't play with much is a must. 

Now I need to decide what to work on next! I have some placemats to make, but I wanted to piece batting scraps for those. I may just quilt the deadline quilt from 2016 that didn't get finished. If I finish it in January, that's not too bad, right?