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?

Thursday, January 5, 2017


After a few months of barely touching a sewing machine, I finally had some time to sew!!! I knew I was missing it, but really found out how much when I had a chance to sew. I finally found my happy place again! 

It's not quilting, but I'm working on some soft books, using up the book panels I had in stash. I cut out all the book panels a couple months ago, but never got a chance to sew them up.

I had five panels of the same book, and panels for five other books too. One soft book I finished and gave as a Christmas present. One I decided would be better used in a quilt, but all the rest I am sewing up now. I need to press these, topstitch around them sealing up the turning hole, then I can run a few lines of stitching up the center and they'll be done. I'll let DD#2 have whichever ones she likes for Mr. LJ, and the rest will go in the cupboard with other gifts. I try to always keep a few baby gifts on hand, because it's fairly frequent that I know someone having a baby. 

I'm pretty happy with my sewing set-up in my new bedroom. I had plenty of room to move around while sewing. There is overhead lighting right above my sewing cabinet, which was just serendipity, no plan for that. My ironing station has all my strings sorted by color, so I see a lot of string quilts in my future, and, I have all of my scrap user system in the linen closet in my bedroom.

This linen closet was my idea, and it was one of the things I was most excited about in our master suite. The original plans had this being an oddly shaped alcove that would have been hard to utilize, but I had them move the bedroom door over a foot, and I ended up with a pretty large linen closet. The alcove would have been hard to find a piece of furniture for, and since they were building around an existing chimney there was no way to not have the alcove. Alcove turned into linen closet is the best use of the space. 

With my strings and scrap user system all readily available, it should keep me busy for a while. My yardage is downstairs where DD#1's family is living, but I could get to it easily enough. It's really only my fat quarters-1 yard pieces that are inaccessible. I can also get to all of my UFO's, though only some of those are in my bedroom. 

Storage is always an issue when you move things around. I have all of my biggest rulers and cutting mats along a wall in a walk in closet elsewhere in the house. Mostly I'm planning on working with my strings, strips, or UFO's, so the big rulers probably aren't that big of a deal. I was trying to think outside the box on storing the smaller rulers. The smallest rulers fit in the drawers in my sewing cabinet, but what about those mid-sized rulers? I use those for trimming or sub-cutting strips, so I needed them available.

 It might be a bit hard to see, but I used Command hooks, and hung them along the inside walls of my sewing cabinet. You can pretty easily see how much stuff I have stored under the back extension table of my sewing cabinet.

I even hung some rulers along the back section of my cabinet! Since the area where my legs go is pretty large, I don't notice the rulers there at all, but it keeps them available should I need them. 

I bought a small set of shelves for more storage, but I haven't assembled those yet. I'll put up a pic when those are sorted. I do believe I will be able to sew just fine in my new master suite!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 in Review

I always do an annual reckoning, to see what quilting accomplishments I had in the previous year. 2016 was a very hard year around here. There was a lot of stress, a lot of drama, a lot of tears. If someone asked me how much I had gotten done in 2016 on the quilting front, I would have said not much. I just did some checking, and I've actually done more than I thought.

Here are my empty spools from 2016. It sure doesn't look like much, but it represents 8,000 yards of thread, or 4.5 miles. 

I started 2016 with 8 quilts on my deadline list, and I've finished 7 of those. The last is pin-basted and waiting for quilting. 

The total number of quilts I made in 2016 is 13, 5 of which were baby quilts.Three of the quilts I made were weighted blankets, and one was my first rag quilt. The rag quilt alone used 24 yards of fabric, as it's a full sized quilt, with four layers of flannel. Since so many quilts I made were baby quilts, I doubt I broke my usual goal 100 yards of fabric. One of the quilts was a king sized quilt, and a couple were twin/full, so maybe 75 yards total for the year?

Overall, it wasn't a great quilting year for me, but I did do more than I thought, which I found encouraging. I haven't sewed much of anything in the last couple months, but now that I've rearranged the house for the third time in one year, perhaps that will change. (This is literally the third bedroom I've been in in a period of 9 months, and we haven't changed houses!)

So, how is 2017 looking? Honestly, I have no idea! We've got 10 people living here, and I'm busy just keeping up with the housework. I'm expecting the living situation to change a couple times this year, but no timeline on the changes, so I really have no idea how things will go. I can't predict how much time I'll have available to sew, but I'm hopeful I can make sewing work in this new bedroom.

Quilting goals
1) Finish Miss A's big girl bed quilt that didn't get done last year. It's pin-basted and ready to quilt.
2) Make DS the Elder's wedding quilt, which is cut out. They got married July 2016 with little notice.
3) Make a wedding quilt that I've designed for a good friend of ours that was supposed to get married summer 2017, but eloped instead.
4 & 5) One of my niece's recently announced her engagement, but I saw on facebook today her sister just eloped, so two more wedding quilts to make. I'm thinking I could finish a couple UFO's for them. I started several very scrappy wedding quilts a couple years ago, knowing that all my nieces and nephews are hitting marriageable ages soon. That foresight may help me out, especially with these girls that I don't know well.
6) DH wants one of my quilts on our bed, but the old one was shredding. I have a UFO that's ready to assemble that could work for a while, until I design a quilt for this room specifically. 

I wouldn't be surprised if I end up needing another wedding or a baby quilt or two, but right now, that's my must do list. I have far too many UFO's right now, so my goal is to quilt one UFO for every deadline quilt. If I can stick with that, I'll have at least 12 finishes in 2017. Considering some of my deadline quilts are current UFO's, It should make a nice dent in my UFO's. I'd love to get far more quilts done this year, but since five of my deadline quilts are queen/kings, we'll see. Life is stressful enough, I'm trying to be easier on myself, and just do what I can. Someday life will quiet down, and I'll have more quilting time. For now, I'll just try to enjoy what quilting time I get.

Happy New Year!