Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Finish #6 for 2024

 It's not a big finish, but it is finished!

It's a baby quilt, about 45" square, and it's the last of some fat quarters I used in three quilts, this being the smallest. 

I'm almost finished quilting another quilt, a twin sized one, so once that one is bound I'll have another one to show. 

I had four blocks to make for the Greek Murder Mystery quilt for February, and here they are all finished. I put them side by side for the pic, but I don't know how they'll be set in the quilt, it is a mystery after all. I'm very happy that I had swapped out a couple of my blues before the mystery started. These blues have better contrast than my original choices. 

I'm having a little bit of trouble getting back into a routine after the family reunion we hosted. I'm fully recovered from the hubbub, and I got my house back to normal the next day, but my original thoughts for what I'd work on after the reunion have changed a little bit. We will have out of town company for a week next month, and I decided it probably wasn't the best time to get neck deep into my strings. I LOVE string piecing, but it really makes a mess!

I decided it's probably best to put the strings on the back burner a bit longer, and go back to working on deadline quilts. The next deadline quilt I need is a really quick quilt kit. It starts with two different panels and I had cut it out before the reunion. I started piecing it today, and I'm really thinking I can get this twin sized quilt pieced in three days max. Tomorrow is a no sew day, I'm going to the zoo with some of the grands since they don't have school. You know you live in the west when school kids get vacation days for rodeo. 

I also finished two quilt tops I had started assembling before the reunion. I have a third ready for borders, and I just cut those, so almost another top done! 

I guess when I list it out, I've finished more than I thought. I think it's just not as much as I had hoped. 

DD#1 told me Miss A wants a sewing machine for for her birthday in the fall. I was debating whether or not to give her one of mine, or buy a newer one for her, when a sewing machine fell into my lap for her. 

When my oldest sister and I went up to see our new great nephew last week, our nephew told us he'd like his mom's machine to go to a family member. I told him I had a granddaughter asking for a sewing machine, and he said his mom would have liked it going to the next generation, and my sister and I agreed. I want to take it in for servicing before I pass it on. Our sister passed five years ago, so I'm betting that machine is bone dry and the grease in the gears should be replaced. It should be a solid machine for my granddaughter though, and it having a cabinet is a nice perk. I was leaning towards a vintage machine for her anyway, and this way she'll have her great-aunt's machine which is pretty cool! 

My nephew even gave me my sister's sewing box with all the accessories and notions, so it's a good start for a new sewist. I'm going to keep her and her sister soon for a couple nights, and we are going to make some simple skirts for them. Miss A is nine, but her sister is only five. Of course the five year old whom I've never sewed with wants to start out by making a dress, but I talked her down to a skirt. Miss A seems to have a natural aptitude for sewing, so I probably could make a dress with her, but since we'll be trying to make two matching garments in two days, I'm thinking elastic waist skirts are a safer choice. Once I know how patient the five year old is with sewing, I'll have a better idea of appropriate projects. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Go-To Block Sizes for Scraps

 I love a good scrap quilt, and for scraps, my go-to block size is 6" finished. Why 6" blocks? Here are just a few reasons.

Novelty prints-

This particular novelty print is fairly small scale, but some novelty prints are huge. I've found that when I cut 6.5" squares (to finish at 6") even the larger prints have enough of the design to tell what it is without fussy cutting. I know some quilters LOVE fussy cutting, and if you do, kudos! When I'm busting scraps, I'm trying to get rid of fabrics, and I've got no desire to spend a bunch of my time fussy cutting, which just makes smaller, weirder shaped scraps. 

These are all 6" finished blocks. All of them can be made with either 1.5, 2, 2.5, or 3.5" cut strips. I use the EZ angle and Companion angle rulers for HST's and QST's, so I don't have to cut huge squares then trim down to make those units. Some of these are scrappy, some are not. I have dozens of other block patterns I use to make 6" finished blocks. The thing about sticking with a consistent size, is that you learn different ways to set the blocks to make the quilts look different, but you can bust lots of blocks even if they are different if the block size is the same. Got a bunch of random 6" blocks? Sash them with cornerstones. Use them as the centers of sawtooth stars and push them up to 12" blocks. Frame them with alternating colors and set them next to each other. Make matching QST's and use the scrap blocks every other block and you'll have a quilt that looks on point but it was easier to make. Use matching nine patches as an alternate block and you'll get an Irish Chain look. 

I see a lot of quilters who like 12" blocks. You don't need as many blocks to make a quilt when your blocks are that large. There are advantage to large blocks too. BUT, my preference for SCRAPS is smaller blocks. A lot of blocks need matching fabrics in certain placements. When I'm using up scraps, I may not have enough of any particular fabric to do repeating units. I like blocks where I can use up the smaller bits, strips that aren't WOF, maybe not even half that much. 

Go, Chiefs! Superbowl champions 2024! For this block I needed 2- 2.5 x 6.5" pieces, then 2 matching 2.5" squares. You can get that from 18" of a 2.5" strip. So if you have strips from a fat quarter, you're good. Have half a jelly roll strip leftover from another project? That's plenty of fabric for this block.

For this 6" block, I needed 4 scraps 2" x 3.5" So, when I'm tackling the Scrap User system, the bits that are more than one square wide, but not quite two squares wide can go into this pattern. 

What about scraps that aren't strips? Crumb blocks? I make 6" blocks. String blocks? I usually make 6" blocks. Six inch blocks help you get rid of the smaller stuff. If you want to make 10 or 12 inch string blocks, you need pretty long pieces, especially if you are piecing them on the diagonal like I usually do. To make large crumb blocks I usually end up having to use a bunch of longer pieces so I'm digging into my strings when I want to be using crumbs. 

Another reason I like 6" squares? The math is easy. Sew four together and you've got a 12" block. I tend to make baby quilts around 48" square. That's 64 blocks set 8x8 if I don't use sashing or a border. An 8x10 setting gives me a 48 x 60" quilt which is a good size for a kid. 10x12 setting is a 60x72" quilt, good for a adult throw. 12x15 setting gives me a twin. Most of my scrap quilts aren't going to be larger than a twin. 

I'm not saying everyone needs to make 6" blocks out of their scraps. I don't even care if you toss your scraps, it's not my business. What I am saying is that IF you WANT to make good use of your scraps, making consistent sized blocks from your scraps will make them easier to use in quilt tops. Choose whatever size blocks you like. I like pre-cutting my scraps, and all the sizes I cut can be used in 6" blocks, so for me, this makes sense. Whichever size blocks you like to make, find several block patterns that are good for scraps, then find several setting options for those blocks. 

If you have some Go-to options, you can just make scrap blocks as leaders/enders, or just for fun in between big projects, and when the stack is big enough, make a quilt top. Scrap quilts don't have to be a chore, and they don't have to be the main project. With a little planning, they can happen organically, and then you'll be making more quilts than ever, without even trying. 

Monday, February 5, 2024

What Did a Month of Tidying Get Me?

This weekend DH and I will be hosting a family reunion. There will be little, if any, sewing going on this week. Coming off the holidays my sewing area was trashed, so I spent a lot of time in January tidying up my sewing spaces. It's far from perfect, but maybe you can tell me if it's company ready. 

 At the beginning of January, my ironing station on the left was piled high with stuff, as was every other surface in this room. It was MUCH worse than normal. You can see my Studio cutter folded up along the back wall. At the beginning of January, the surfaces were so bad, my Studio cutter was sitting on the floor!

The cabinet under the window still has too much stuff on it, but it had been piled almost to the window sill. It's not great, but better. My cutting table is completely cleared off and that's HUGE!

The dressers that hold fat quarters-1 yard pieces of fabric are mostly cleaned off. The pink basket has some scraps I haven't put away yet, but are cut to sizes I save. My jars of pins live on there, so those are supposed to be there. All my quilt books are put away, there had been a stack of them on the floor, and my trash has been emptied, so yeah!

That set of plastic drawers had been covered with stuff, but in this pic the only thing on it is my coffee cup, which is no longer there! 

That's how my fabric room is looking. People can easily see into it when going to the basement bathroom, so this room being cleaned up was the most important.

How about my actual sewing room? To the untrained eye, it's still a disaster, but to me it's SO MUCH BETTER! 

Indigo Way from men's shirts (a smaller version) is on my design wall, along with a strip of what will become a thermometer for my 2023 temperature quilt. You can see my colorway of Indigo Way on the table with my Singer 201. 

There had been a big stack of stuff next to my sewing cabinet that houses the Janome M7. That has all been dealt with and put away. Yes, there are project boxes all over, but that's ok. 

The quilt closet has been tidied and you can actually walk into it! One of these days we're going to have to get a door for it, there hasn't been a door on that closet the whole time we've lived here. There's still stuff on my cubbies, but it's active projects, and it's the same with the stuff on top of my rolling carts. It's all stuff I'm currently working on. 

The best part about taking a month to tidy is I think I touched every single project I have going, whether it's only cut out, started, or just waiting for assembly. I found some nine patches I had completely forgotten about, and I've already put those into blocks for two throws. They went from forgotten units to finished quilt blocks in between other projects. There will be 80 nine patches in each quilt, but I've got them sewn into forty quilt blocks, twenty blocks for each quilt. 

See what I mean about other people may think it's a mess, but it's actually not bad for a working studio that is being used on a daily basis? I don't need it to look like I don't use the sewing spaces. There is ample proof I do in the living room!

DH and I finally got quilts hung on my new quilt rack! In case you are wondering how hard it is to hang them, the answer is not hard at all. We started by taking all the bars off the rack. We put the bar that would become the top bar on the bottom. I hung the baby quilts I wanted to show on that, then with DH on one side and me on the other, we lifted the loaded bar to the top position. We did the same thing for bars 2 and 3, so only on the bottom bar was I hanging quilts that were actually touching the ones above it. The largest quilt on there is a full sized, the blue on the bottom left. Four are twins, and all the rest are throws or baby quilts. Yes, the rack is screwed into wall studs. 

I did get a quilt finished over the weekend. 

It was a UFO so it's nice to cross it off my list. Since I was mostly busting busy novelty prints, I kept the center squares constant. DH is picky about scrap quilts but he likes this one. This is finish #5 for the year. 

I won't be sewing the rest of the week, it's some cooking and lots of cleaning. I've already gotten a head start on the cooking because I like to make ahead whatever I can. I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen when there is family from out of state here to visit with. Now that my sewing rooms are clean-ish, I am at a good starting place when life is back to normal. 

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Two More Finishes

My original goal for 2024 was to finish 40 quilts. That sounds like a lot, but between basted quilts and quilt tops, I actually have that many quilts ready to finish. Potentially, I could finish 40 quilts this year without piecing at all. If you add in the quilts where I have the blocks done but they need assembly, that brings me closer to 60 UFO's! Crazy, right? 

I will be piecing this year, I have four quilts that need to be made for grandkids birthdays. I finished cutting the last of those out this morning. I have five other quilts I'd like to make for family members this year, all of which are cut out as much as is practical. Some things, like strip pieced quilts, need cutting along the way too. I have a few leader/ender projects pre-cut as well. 

So why did I do so much pre-cutting of projects? So I can keep my cutting table free for basting! Most of my finished quilt tops are not that large. There are several baby quilts, lots of throws, and a few twins. I have a ton of batting scraps that need to be pieced into Frankenbatts, and smaller quilts are a great place to use those up. Having my cutting table free will help me deal with all those batting scraps too! 

Meandering seems to put the least amount of stress on my arm, even less than walking foot quilting. I end up repositioning the quilt more frequently with most walking foot designs, which is harder on my arm. Honestly, if I meandered on every quilt I ever make, but I die leaving behind quilts rather than quilt tops, it's a win. Quilt tops don't stress me out though. Should something unexpected happen to me, and I leave behind a bunch of finished quilt tops, those can be turned into a charity that has long arm quilters in the group, or if my family wants any of them, there's a long arm quilting shop within walking distance of my house. They can be finished easily enough. 

I like finishing quilts myself, and the smaller ones are pretty easy for me. I don't see myself quilting a lot more queen/king quilts in my life. Every once in a while, sure, but often? No. Baby quilts are a great opportunity to try out new quilting designs. I may meander most of the time to protect my RSI, but I still like learning new stuff. 

I'm not confident I will finish 40 quilts this year, but I'm off to a good start. I finished four quilts in January. Besides the two baby quilt I showed last week, I finished these two as well. 

This quilt is twin sized. If it looks familiar, I actually made three quilt tops out of the same stack of black/neutral log cabin blocks. How in the world I ended up with so many black scraps I'll never know.  I know I finished the other twin sized one in 2023, but it had a different layout. I think the baby sized quilt top made from the leftover blocks is still hanging in the quilt closet. 

I finished this quilt too. It's just a throw 48" x 60". 

These aren't my fanciest quilts, nor my favorite ones. They are, however, finished. I hoping they can bring comfort to someone when it's needed, after all, isn't that why we quilt at all?

I quilted about 1/3 of another throw this morning. My goal is to get it finished this weekend. After that, I'll probably not be sewing much if at all for a week or so.  The end of next week through the weekend is a family reunion we are hosting and I will be very busy with that. Sewing can wait, family is more important. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

First Two Finishes of 2024

 The first two finishes of the year are for the same recipient. I've got a great-nephew due anytime now. He is my second sister's first grandchild, but unfortunately for all of us, my sister was taken from us too soon and she won't meet him this side of heaven. One of her great regrets was not holding a grandchild, so when I finished making memory quilts for her family from her clothes, I set a few bits of clothing aside. I can't bring her back, and it's a poor facsimile of her holding her grandson, but here's the quilt for him made from her clothes.

It's really soft and drapes like a hug. 

Here's the minky backing where the quilting really shows up. I was thinking of the stair step pattern as a stairway to heaven, and her coming down long enough to hold that grandbaby. Even though I've washed all the clothes, they still smell like her perfume. 

On a lighter side, my nephew wanted a beach theme for the nursery, so I went that direction with my quilt, and the quilt from me is a bit bigger, good for tummy time.

Working with my sister's clothes is heavy on my heart, so I decided to play around with my quilt. I grabbed two light tan fat quarters for the dry sand, two darker golden tan fat quarters for the wet sand, and blues and greens from the lightest to dark. I cut all the fat quarters into 2.5 and 4.5" strips, grabbed my specialty rulers, EZ angle for HST's, Companion Angle for QST's, and Tri-Recs for triangle in a square units. With a colorwash beach scene in mind, I started cutting units for 4" finished blocks. I made more blocks than I needed so I could really play on the design wall once the blocks were made. To up the beachy feel, I also added in some fussy cut 4" finished squares with sea creatures on them. 

In this photo you can see several of the fussy cut animals. I didn't want them super obvious, so I tried to put them in with similar colors. The colors are off in this photo, I should have taken it outside. The first photo shows the colors much more accurately. Several of these fabrics were brought to me by DD#2 when she went to Hawaii last year. 

My quilt for baby has a minky backing too, but I quilted spirals on mine, wanting to add in some wave action. 

I also sent a dozen beach themed burp rags I made. 

I never know how to list the first quilts of the year. Technically I could count them as UFO's since they were not started in this calendar year, but they were never set aside so I'm listing them as WIP's instead of either a UFO or New Start. 

I've got all the blocks done for my colorway of Indigo Way. I knew I was taking a big risk this year, because I was messing with Bonnie's values. I usually do a photo negative of her colors, using the darkest colors where her lightest are, and using my darkest where her lightest are. This year I messed with that, and if I was determined to do her layout, I shouldn't have. 

Here's a sample of the blocks in her layout, and I am not love with it, not even in like with it. I never make myself stick with a designer's suggestion fo layout, so I played around with it, and I did find something I liked. 

Straight set with my purple background for sashing, but these light teal cornerstones, yup, this I can get behind. I'm using the units from the setting triangles to make extra block B's. 

I'm going to try my men's shirt version with the on point layout but with solid setting triangles. I wasn't a fan of the border, and I only made those units in my colorway, because I was pretty sure that step was the border. I'm still debating if I'm going to try to rework the border or just use the units in another quilt. 

I'm almost finished quilting a UFO too, so maybe that will be on the blog finished next week!