Monday, July 31, 2006

Courtesy of Kim's blog.

One word for . . .

1. Yourself: quilter
2. Your partner: quiet
3. Your hair: fine
4. Your Mother: smart
5. Your Father: silent
6. Your favorite item: quilts.
7. Your dream last night: none
8. Your favorite drink: tea
9. Your dream home: cottage
10. The room you are in: office
11. Your pleasure: quilting
12. Your fear: heights
13. Where you want to be in ten years: retired
14. Who you hung out with last night: Harry Potter
15. What you're not: patient
16. Your best friends: quilters
17. One of your wish list items: peace
18. Your gender: female
19. The last thing you did: email
20. What you are wearing: casual
21. Your favorite weather: snowy
22. Your favorite book: mystery
23. Last thing you ate: hashbrowns
24. Your life: wonderful
25. Your mood: good
26. The last person you talked to on the phone: neighbor
27. Who you are thinking about right now: daughter

This wasn't so hard!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Finally done!

Would you believe it? It took me all day today to cut those large squares into usable small pieces and file them away. Here I thought I could finish by noon! Can't believe it took so long. But it's done - and what a good feeling! Now my uncut scraps are reduced to only 3-4 boxes and totes. I must have enough cut strips, squares, bricks and triangle squares for at least 20 full size quilts if not more!

I thought I posted that I was taking up the fabric challenge - but I guess I just put it in a comment on Vicki's blog. I just bought everything I've planned on buying for some time. I'll even be good at the Seattle quilt show - at least that's my plan. Cutting and sorting and washing and pressing and generally playing with my fabric is a sobering experience - it makes me realize over and over just how much I have and how I don't need anything else. At least not now. Maybe backgrounds and borders eventually - but certainly not for awhile.


1. An empty scrap tote
2. Books on CD
3. My Mariners won their third series in a row
4. Kids got back from their Mt. Rainier trip safely
5. Payday tomorrow!


Oodles of Scraps

Cher from Marathon Quilter and I had a great scrap cutting session yesterday. She got half the scraps in her large tote cut up and sorted into baggies. I cut up the scraps left over from cutting 12 1/2" squares for the Broken Dishes quilt back, plus most of the scraps in a small tote. I don't know how many more totes of scraps Cher has, but I know I have several that are much bigger than the one I tackled yesterday. It was really great to get so much accomplished, and much more fun doing it together than by ourselves. We decided we need to have a scrap cutting session at least every 2-3 months until we get all the scraps under control. We took a short break for tuna sandwiches and chips for lunch, then a bit later headed to Starbucks for coffee and a visit to the closest quilt shop - one that Cher hadn't ever been to. I'm happy to report that I bought nothing! Before you send too many pats on the back, however, I'll confess that I hardly ever go to this quilt shop because she doesn't carry fabrics that I like. Her prices are really high also. She does a booming business with most of the quilters in town, so I don't feel so bad that I don't spend money there.

Here I planned to get Dishes on the longarm today, but instead I find myself still cutting scraps. The tote I tackled had dozens and dozens of large squares - 8" I think - that I'm cutting into smaller, usable sizes. Takes a lot of time! So I have the ball game on the radio and I'm cutting today.

Our neighbor ran a garage sale yesterday and he had an exercise bike in very good shape for $25. We brought it over so I could try it out for a week or so. I've felt so very guilty about not getting exercise. I rode 20 minutes at the start of the ball game today. If I can do that once a day - or even 3 or 4 times a week - I should start getting into better shape. I'll try it for the week and probably buy it. If I watch Simply Quilts while I ride it I should be able to exercise without totally giving up the time for quilting!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Pressing details

Melanie from Covered Porches and Screen doors wanted me to talk about pressing and how I got my tops so flat. When I downloaded the photos from the camera this morning I discovered the one of the wrong side of the quilt wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Granted it's very light, but it still shows what I want it to show.

One thing to keep in mind while you are reading - I use some speed piecing methods when it seems appropriate, but usually I feel that speed isn't all that important. I enjoy the process of piecing a lot, and don't mind when it doesn't result in a finished top in a day. So the techniques I use may seem time consuming and finicky to some, but they work for me.

I have one rule that I never break - and I mean never. I never sew another seam across an existing seam until the first seam is pressed. I use lots of steam when I press. I know many people don't use steam because they think it can distort the block. It's not the steam that distorts the block - it's the way people press. Pressing means an "up and down" motion with the iron. That's "up" above the block, then "down" onto the block. It's the side to side motion of "ironing" that will distort the block. Especially bias edges. I never use the back and forth and side to side motion of ironing until the entire top is completed.

Another thing I like to do is press the bias triangle seams before the piece is cut to the final size. Several posts ago I showed how I make a lot of bias squares by stitching long bias strips together, pressing the seams to the side and then cutting the squares. If I'm doing a few then I cut the triangles extra large, press the seams, then trim them to size. Yes that takes quite a bit longer - but I can trim while I watch TV. The perfectly sized bias squares sew together as easy as can be - much more quickly than they would if the edges bowed a little as they often can from pressing after stitching

Still another thing I do is "pop" seams open. I learned this trick in a class taught by Linda Ballard. You can see the popped seams in the picture above at the center of each Broken Dishes block. After stitching the 4 half-square triangle squares together I hold them where all the corners meet and give the seam a little twist with my fingers. This pops the stitching in the first two seams apart. This way I can press the dark to the dark on each side of the block, and what looks like a tiny 4-patch is pressed open at the center of the block. This distributes the bulk beautifully.

I also press seams open whenever necessary to reduce bulk. When stitching triangles together that result in a bias square of 1 1/2" unfinished size or smaller I always press those seams open. Marsha McCloskey recommends this in her Feathered Star book, and I find it works well. I also press long seams open when pressing to one side would create a lot of bulk. As you can see above, in the Broken Dishes quilt that means all the long seams are pressed open, as well as the seams where the blocks are joined together to make a row. I use lots and lots of steam, so they stay open well. I never have a problem with the seams popping on a finished quilt - the reason some "experts" say not to press seams open - because I put lots and lots of quilting in my quilts.

Another thing I do is to clip the seam allowance on a block so I can change the direction the seam is pressed to the side. I very rarely quilt in the ditch, so I don't worry that the "ditch" zigzags along a seam when the pressing changes direction. To me the most important thing is doing whatever is necessary to reduce the bulk so the pieced top will lay flat. I learned this little trick in a class with Jo Morton. She shows this in all her books.

Lastly, if I've pieced a complicated block with lots and lots of separate pieces, I usually block it before I sew it to other blocks. I've drawn a set of concentric squares on my ironing board pad (with a permanent Sharpie) that are the unfinished sizes of most all the blocks I make. To "block" a block I will pin the block wrong side up in the appropriate size square, using lots of pins along each edge to stretch it (or shrink it) to exactly the right size. I put the pins as parallel to the board surface as I can so they don't get in the way of the iron. Then I spray the pinned block with water and press it with my iron on the highest setting. This is most definitely a "set the iron down, wait a moment, lift it up and set it down again" process - NO sliding the iron back and forth. I press it until it's dry, then let it cool before I take the pins out. Blocks that are a little bit on the small or large size can be blocked so they are of a uniform size and exactly the size they are supposed to be. Makes stitching them together into the top really easy.

I hopes this helps Melanie. There are certainly many ways to do things, and none of them are "right" or "wrong". This is just the way I do it, and it works well for me.

Now that I've written this I see where more pictures would have been really helpful. But since I'm writing this while I take a break at work more pictures will have to wait.


I managed to sew on the last two border strips before I went to my medallion class last night. I love how this turned out! Made mostly from pieces so small that lots of people throw them away. This is like getting an entire quilt top for free. I've decided to piece the back ala Bonnie also, using 10" squares of fabrics that I'm not in love with any more. I hope to get it quilted this weekend, but I many find time to piece the back and nothing else. Too many other things that need to be done also.

I need two holders to get a good shot of the entire top, so this is the best I can do. When the quilt is finished I'll get a good picture with two quilt holders.

I also included pictures of my plastic shoe boxes I'd emptied by doing this quilt. They hold 1 1/2", 2 1/2", and 3 1/2" squares and half-square triangle squares. They are already full again - I've added more since I took this picture - and I've barely begun to cut up my scraps. Lots more "free" quilt tops in my future I guess!

Have to scoot and get ready for work, so this is it for now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Thank goodness for Bloglines!

I see the links to the rings are still acting up. I am so glad I subscribed to Bloglines and registered all the sites on the rings before this happened. I know I'd be going through severe withdrawal if I couldn't see the updates all my blogger friends have been posting.

Still not quite done with the Broken Dishes quilt. The heat has delayed me a bit because I didn't want to add to it by turning on the iron in the sewing room. Last night I did get the body of the quilt put together and the first set of borders cut, but then had to go to quilt group. Tonight there should be no stopping me. I'm really looking forward to posting a picture of the finished top.

Melanie from Covered Porches asked me how I got a top with so many little triangles to look so flat, even and symmetrical. I thought it might be a good idea to do a little tutorial on pressing so this morning I tried to take a couple pictures of the back of Broken Dishes. Every picture I took came out way too light with the flash, so I'll try again when I have the top finished and can hold it up. I'd like to have some pictures for illustration. It that doesn't work I'll just stitch more triangles together and choose darker fabrics - I certainly have enough!

Here I said I would be good and put another payment on my longarm with my sale proceeds. Well, when I patted myself on the back this weekend I guess I was premature. I fell off the buying wagon - just a bit. I've been eyeing the Rocky Mountain Collection at Z&S fabrics for several months now, so I decided to indulge myself. I've also been waiting for what seems like forever for them to post Jo Morton's new Lexington collection. I promised myself several months ago that I'd let myself buy this one for use in all my Jo's Little Women's Club quilts. That collection was finally put up on the website this morning, so I ordered it. I also couldn't pass up Jo's Oxford Blues as I have a hard time finding good dark blues these days. I rounded it out by ordering a couple books I've been wanting for awhile from Quilt Books USA where they have good discounts. Now that I've written it all down I'd say I fell off the buying wagon more than a little bit. I guess I'd have to say I took a flying leap off the wagon and landed in the mud! I guess the only excuse I can use is that I've been looking at all these things for at least 2-3 months, so they weren't impulsive spur-of-the moment purchases. And I did clear enough space on the shelves for all of it. I also earned enough between my sale proceeds and my customer quilts to pay for all of it, so no money left the family checkbook. But now I must call it done for several months now - and I must make very good progress using up stash and scraps and finishing UFO's. If I can do that then I won't feel so badly about falling in the mud!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sale results

I forgot to take my camera to the sale so I have no pictures to post. I really meant to take it, and was so disappointed when I remembered about 10 minutes after we got there. The back lawn was covered with tables, some of which were covered with portable covers - the kind people take camping. We had a table by the south fence partially under a tree, where they had rigged blue tarps to form a large awning over the entire row of tables. Good thing, as it rained a little bit off and on during set up and the first couple hours of the sale. Didn't help the temperature at all - in fact it made it worse because the humidity got much worse. I think the humidity and the 100 degree heat probably affected the number of people attending. It wasn't bad in the morning, but there was almost no one from 1:00 on, so we shut down at 2:30.

I didn't do nearly as well as I'd hoped, but better than I might have done. It was really odd what people bought. I guess it varies from year to year. Other than one woman who picked out almost $50 of fabric, most people picked here and there and spent $2 or $3. I did get rid of a lot of the odds and ends I took for which I was grateful - rolls of triangle paper that I tried and didn't like, a box of Shar Jorgensen templates, packages of template plastic, and other stuff like that. I sold a total of $87.25 - which is certainly better than nothing. My friend who shared the table with me did better - $201.75. This included a box of 53 books that she sold to a woman for $1 each, which will probably go for sale on E-bay within the week. The really good thing is that this allowed me to clean things out. I put some of the fabrics back on my shelves and left about 2/3 of them in the box. My friend Kim wanted none of hers back so I picked 5-6 pieces of hers and added them, including an almost 10 yard piece that will be a good quilt back. The remaining 2/3 of mine plus all of hers will be up for grabs at quilt group tomorrow night, and then whatever isn't taken will go to the guild charity committee. That brought my total sales to over $200, because a quilter at work bought $119 of fabric from me last week that never got to the sale.

I was a good girl too - which was hard. The shop owner had wonderful bargains on her outside tables - big bundles of flannel and more. And everything in the shop was 20% off. All I bought was 6 yards of a Jo Morton red that I'd asked her last spring to save for me when it came in, plus the new Vintage Quilts magazine. I was so proud of myself!

I didn't finish the triangle quilt top yesterday as I had a baby quilt to quilt - a rush job from a customer - so I did that while it was cool. By the time I was ready to do my own sewing it was just too hot to turn on the iron. So I did a lot more scrap cutting until about 1:00, when we took refuge from the heat at our daughter's house.

Back to work today - thank goodness it's supposed to be getting cooler!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Look at this!

Very quick post this morning, as I'm running late. I wanted to show you two pictures. Take a look at the boxes! These are all completely full of things to sell tomorrow. I hope I bring very little of it back home. The second picture is of my empty shelves. Aren't they great! Here's hoping they stay empty. I've also shortened the stacks of fabrics in the stacking basket - I just didn't take a picture of that.

Hotsy totsy here as my mother would have said. Supposed to be 104 today, 101 tomorrow and Sunday. I'm amazed how much just having my iron on in the sewing room heats up the room.


1. Fridays
2. Luna bars
3. Empty shelves
4. Bacon and tomato sandwiches for dinner


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Good things

I'm taking a short break here at work so I thought I'd write a quick post. My friend Sue was very happy with how the wedding quilt turned out. This morning she is adding embroidered names of the bride and groom to the center heart - the one with the rings - and binding the quilt. Many of her family members are coming to town from Minnesota and North Dakota on Friday, including the niece and her husband who are the lucky recipients of the quilt.

Last night at quilt group we celebrated the retirement of our friend Kathi. She's been a surgical nurse at a local hospital for over 30 years. Very little surgery was done there in the last few years as most of it was moved to the other hospital in town, so their group focused on eye surgery. She wasn't quite ready to retire, but all the docs are closing that surgery and opening their own eye clinic. They will use techs instead of surgical nurses, so there was nothing for Kathi. Anyway, we had a surprise celebration at Sue's. We sat on her deck surrounded by her wonderful plantings and with a superb view of Vancouver Lake, sipping the best margaritas I've ever tasted. (A very different recipe - I have the link at home and can post it later if anyone is interested.) Then we had taco salads - made with the freshest ingredients and some great homemade salsa and guacamole. They were so good we all had seconds. We finished it off with homemade poundcake and Sue's homemade fresh peach ice cream. What a treat! We were all absolutely stuffed. I have certainly learned to eat well in the years these ladies have been my best friends!

I'm also happy to report that I found the missing row of the Broken Dishes quilt! I was glad to learn that my math wasn't faulty after all. And for one time Murphy's Law wasn't working - I found it before I'd made a replacement! Somehow it had fallen onto the floor behind my machine. I know I looked on the floor several times, but it was jammed back against the wall. The only reason I found it is because I decided to move the little rolling cart storing my machine supplies from the left of the machine to the right of the machine. I pulled out the cart, moved the machine and table to the left, and there was the row of quilt blocks. I am so happy to have found that!

Still working on pricing things for the yard sale on Saturday. The weather report says it's going to be 105 degrees - which will certainly set a record for us. That type of heat is very rare here. Thank goodness the sale tables are on the west side of the little house where the quilt shop "lives", and that it starts at 8:00 a.m. I told my DH that I was leaving as soon as the sun got around to the west side and started hitting us. I don't care how much I have left to sell - there is no shade in the back and the afternoon will be miserable out there. I figure the serious shoppers will be there in the morning anyway to get the best selection - at least I hope so. It's going to be really miserable outside.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pictures of the Wedding Quilt

Just a quick post as I really need to head to bed. I wanted to post more pictures of the wedding quilt. It's a really beautiful quilt - my friend Sue does a fabulous job with printing pictures onto fabric. All the photo blocks are the same except that the photos themselves are different, so I didn't take pictures of the rest of those. I did take pictures of the rest of the appliqué blocks, plus pictures of the back and the border. The back picture didn't turn out at all - the thread is more or less invisible on the print. The borders are the same print, but I could get an angle shot that sort of shows the feather going around the border.

Didn't work on the Broken Dishes tonight as I realized that the yard sale is next weekend and I have piles and piles of fabric to price. Got a start with that, but will have to scramble to get it all priced before Saturday. I've settled on $2.00 per yard for the price I'm charging. Not giving it away since lots of it is so old that I probably paid $5-$6 for it - but still a good bargain if people like the fabric. If it sells well I should make $200-$300! Hopefully there will be lots of people there buying. She's done this for several years now, so lots of people should be coming. I sure hope I have enough boxes to pack this all in! I've decided that whatever doesn't sell will go onto the top shelf in my sewing room - the one I have to have a stool to reach. There are plaids there right now, which I use all the time, so it's a very good solution. Then I'll start using them for pieced quilt backs and charity quilts.

Better call it quits - 5:00 a.m. comes early!

Coming along nicely!

Yesterday afternoon about 3:00 I heaved a big sigh of relief. I finished quilting my friend's wedding quilt! Of course it will seem totally worthwhile when she gives me the check tomorrow - another payment on the longarm - but I am glad to have it finished. Except for the frustrations with the border it was a fun quilt to do, as she always gives me total creative license as to what to quilt. I don't have a picture of the whole thing yet - it really does look beautiful - so I took some quick snaps of three blocks to show you for now. There are 5 blocks with appliqué and 4 blocks with photographs. She does lots of quilts with photos on fabric - she freelanced for Hewlett Packard for several years helping them develop all their materials for printing on fabric, including their label making program. This has made such a beautiful wedding keepsake for her niece! I sure hope they have a good wall for displaying this quilt.

I also spent quite a bit of time on the Broken Dishes quilt, and I'm happy to report that by the end of this evening the top should be together except for the final borders. I sketched the quilt on graph paper Friday evening so I would know exactly how many more blocks to make, and learned I was 29 short. It's a good thing I cut all those new half square triangle squares. But somewhere I went wrong - I'm still 19 squares - one row - short! I can't for the life of me figure out what I did wrong - how could I count graph paper squares incorrectly? (The fact that I can't even count correctly anymore is scary!) I kept thinking maybe a row dropped on the floor behind something when I wasn't looking - but a search of the room turned up nothing. So I need to make another row today before I can stitch it together. In the meantime I'm including a couple pictures of my progress. This has been so much fun!

As I was laying this top out in the hall last night to make sure I didn't make the rows too long - thus accounting for the miscount (I didn't) - my DH asked what this quilt was for. When I said "our bed", his comment was, "It's certainly bright". Usually he doesn't comment at all other than "that's nice", so this sent up red flags for me. When I asked him if he didn't like it, he was quick to answer, "It's fine." Who knows what that means? It is colorful, but that's OK. I'm counting on a wide dark border to tie everything together.


1. A finished customer quilt
2. Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner
3. A cold glass of white wine on a hot evening
4. Flavored no-calorie water - I like Fruit-2-O.
5. Rotary cutters, mats, and rulers


Friday, July 14, 2006

Obsessed with using scraps

Finn, I can see the great big smile on your face as you read this. I have become totally obsessed with using my scraps! At this point I have no idea whether I have enough Broken Dishes blocks to finish my quilt, but that really doesn't matter. I continue to make half-square triangle squares. Another of my plastic boxes was full of bias strips 2 1/2" wide. In the past I always made my half square triangle squares from bias strips, using the method developed by Marcia McCloskey and Nancy Martin. It makes totally accurate squares that go together so beautifully. So the last couple days I've sewed the strips together and last night I started cutting squares. I thought I'd share this method with you because many of you may not be familiar with it. I love this method, and still use it when I need a lot of bias squares from the same few fabrics.

First I lay all the strips out on my cutting table the way I want to sew them together. Usually this is a light-dark-light arrangement. Even though the strips may be different lengths, keep one edge even - like the top of a picket fence. (In my first picture there is one big jog because the ends of the strips weren't angled the correct way. This just makes the cutting trickier.) I first sew them into pairs, then into sets of four, and so on. I make my sets as long as my cutting table, because the longer the set the more squares, as the two edge strips have left over triangles instead of squares.

The most important thing when stitching the strips together is to make sure you aren't stretching the bias edges. Press to the dark as you stitch things together, unless you are cutting squares 1 1/2" or less. When they are that small I like to press the seams open. Once they are all together get our your square ruler and rotary cutter. Align the 45 degree angle line with the seamline and make the first two cuts, which will separate the square from the strip set. Working across the bottom of the "pickets", cut a square from each point. This gives you a new set of points, which you then cut into squares working in the opposite direction. When you have cut all squares you can, then go back and trim the other two sides of each square for a perfect half-square triangle square. You can get a special ruler designed just for cutting these squares, but it isn't necessary.

You will have some pieces left at each long edge that are sort of triangle shaped. Stitch these together on the bias edge and you will be able to cut a few more squares.

The rule of thumb is to cut your strips the same width as your unfinished square - 2 1/2" strips for unfinished 2 1/2" half-square triangle squares. I've found, however, that when the squares are little it's best to cut the strips about 1/8" wider and when they are bigger you can cut the strips 1/8" narrower. Once you are cutting bias squares larger than 4 1/2" square this method is no longer efficient. At that time I just cut squares, pair them up right sides together, and cut them in half diagonally. Then I stitch the cut edges together to form the bias square.

When I need just a few bias squares from each fabric combination I cut large squares from the fabrics rather than bias strips - 6", 7", 8", 9" or 10" squares, depending on the number of bias squares that I need. Then I cut each square across the diagonal, and cut each half-square into appropriate width strips. The last two cuts give you two triangles that you can stitch together for a final square.

There is a small amount of waste with this method, but because of the total accuracy of the method it's a fair trade. I used to save the small waste pieces for paper piecing, but not any more. And I find they don't work for crumb squares because they are sort of diamond shaped instead of square.

So that's what I've been doing these last few days instead of posting. This weekend I must finish the wedding quilt for my friend, and I hope to also finish piecing the Broken Dishes.

Then I think I'll make some Mile-A-Minute blocks from the plastic boxes of crumbs and odd-sized bias squares that I've found!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

Good progress on the wedding quilt

Believe it or not, I did go upstairs to work on the customer quilt. It's a beautiful quilt - done from Robyn Pandolph's Folk Art Wedding pattern. My friend's quilt has only 9 blocks arranged 3 by 3, and four of the hearts have pictures of the wedding printed inside the heart instead of the applique. I'd already loaded the back, but still had to cut the batting to size and load it and the quilt top onto the machine. I got all the edges based down and the stitching in the ditch done around all the blocks and the sashing. The curved feather border is marked on one long side - and was stitched for awhile. That's when I discovered the tension was off and the underside was loopy. By the time I got that taken out it was time to fix dinner. It's still really hot - 88.7 was the high for today - so we just had bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, fruit and milk. When I went back upstairs to work again I discovered it is now unbearably hot up there even with the fan going. I feel OK with my progress so I'm going to call it quits for tonight. Cooler weather is supposed to be coming, including possible rain on Wednesday. Much better weather for quilting upstairs.

Several of you commented on the size and organization of my stash. I think the gene for "organization" is one of the strongest genes I have. I've always been very organized - and I can't stand to work in a place that's unorganized. Organization just comes naturally to me - I don't have to work at it. If I'm pulling fabrics for a quilt or have a lot of stuff out in the sewing room I can stand it just so long - then I have to stop working long enough to straighten up. As far as the size of my stash goes - I've been quilting for over 20 years and sewing for over 50, so I've had a lot of time to collect fabric and other stuff. For a long time good fabric was very hard to find, so we tended to buy it when we found it. Eventually it became clear that good quilting fabric was here to stay - about the time I decided I should start buying for retirement because at the price of fabric I'd never be able to afford it after we retired. Then the fashion in colors shifted. Cool colors - which were all we could find for years - were out and warm colors were in. The large pieces in my baskets are primarily from the cool color era. Once I started to collect some warm colors I discovered the cool colors didn't work that well with them, so I kept buying more warm colors. Then I started using plaids. Then I discovered folk art quilts. Then all the fabulous reproduction fabrics started coming out - and I could finally make quilts that looked similar to the 19th century quilts that had made me fall in love with quilts to begin with - 20 years before I made my first one. And that, dear readers, is how an obscene stash is built - one piece at a time. Until one day one looks at the shelves and realizes one would have to live to be 500 years old to use it all. I'm certainly going to try - but I've put myself on a strict limited fabric buying diet! No more fabrics bought on speculation - only things I need to finish a current project.

Cleaning part two

The basket contains some fabric to sell, plus a few ziploc bags of fabric. I'm selling all the rest of my Christmas fabric, all my silky, shiny fabrics for crazy quilts, muslin pieces, and some other oddball stuff. Also two kits I bought that I really don't want to make up. A few odds and ends also plus three rulers I don't use.

The two bottom shelves on this bookcase hold florals, ethnic fabrics, novelty fabrics, and some miscellaneous fabrics that don't fit anywhere else. The right hand stack on the bottom shelf plus the middle and right stack on the shelf above are all designated for the sale - at least for now.

The fabric baskets are all sorted and stacked nicely. All the little pieces that used to "live" to the right side in each basket have been put in the scrap box for cutting up. (After doing this I now have three more scrap totes!) I've sorted out fabric to sell, which is separated by an index card from what I want to keep, with some baskets labeled to sell everything.

The tall fabric shelf is sorted better and everything actually fits with nothing slopping over! I hope to sell enough fabric that the stacks of larger pieces can move to the baskets, making room for me to move the fabrics from beside the ironing board over to here. Then I can bring the solid cottons down from the bathroom upstairs!

I've also tossed in a picture of my 30's fabrics. I love these! I've been collecting 30's patterns and one of these days may actually get to use some of these!

Gratitudes for today:

1. A clean sewing room!

2. Bing cherries on sale so I can indulge in all I want to eat!

3. A husband who is satisfied with sandwiches or hot dogs for dinner.

4. Business casual dress at work in the summertime.

5. Fresh smelling clean laundry - especially sheets and towels


I guess I've got the cleaning-organizing bug

I'm still not upstairs quilting the customer quilt! It's a good thing I don't have to support myself doing this - I'd starve! When I'm deep in my own projects I hate to stop them for anything else! And it's supposed to be hot again today. So I'm procrastinating long enough to put up a post for today, then I'll be up there.

I finished going through everything in my sewing room by about 11:00 last night. I have lots of fabric designated for sale - probably a stack about 6 feet tall. There's some of it that I'm trying not to have second thoughts about. I will still be looking at each piece as I price it. My husband asked this morning "are you really sure you want to sell it? You don't' have to, you know." I'm telling myself I do - I really do. I'll never use half this fabric in my lifetime. While I went through things I cleaned and dusted and organized. I took some pictures quickly because who knows when it'll ever look like this again. I even sorted all my magazines. I can't believe how many there are. At one time I'd ripped them all apart and filed everything I wanted to keep in my filing cabinets. Judging by the dates on these magazines that was over 4 years ago! I REALLY need to do that again - I have better things to put on these shelves than all these magazines!

Pictures from top down -

1. Boxes with scraps cut into squares, triangles and bricks. Some of these still have old stuff in sizes and shapes I don't want to save any more, so I'll have to use those up.
2. Labeled drawers of tools, etc. I love these rolling carts of plastic drawers! The large drawers on the bottom contain my collection of felted wool.
3. Filing cabinet containing patterns and items ripped from quilting magazines. I need to clean them out and go through the 4-5 years of magazines that have accumulated since I last did this.

Blogger won't let me add more pictures to this post so I'll have to write a second post.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Questions and answers and more

Well, I never did get upstairs to that customer quilt. It got way too hot too early - and is still hovering around 90. That means it's 85-90 upstairs as we have no A.C. It's also way to hot to turn on an iron, so I can't press the Broken Dishes blocks. So instead I've been going through all the rest of the things in my sewing room, sorting and putting things aside for the yard sale two weeks from today. I sure have a lot of fabric that I've designated to sell. Part of me is wanting to hang onto it all just in case I decide later that I wish I'd kept it. The other part of me is assuring me that there will always be more fabric in the stores, and right now I have enough for 2-3 lifetimes at least. I want to get this finished today because tomorrow is supposed to be cooler, and now I'll have to focus on that customer quilt the entire day.

Thanks to all of you who've left me so many complements about my quilts. Each one makes me smile with pleasure.

I thought I'd answer a few questions that have been asked in various comments. Usually I just reply to the person commenting, but may people don't have their blogs set up that way.

Bonnie, I do needle turn appliqué by hand. I love to do it - I find handwork very relaxing. One of these days I'll teach myself to do invisible machine appliqué but so far that hasn't happened. I just like the handwork too much.

Nadine, there is no reason you can't handpiece a scrap quilt like the depression block. I enjoy hand piecing, but I love hand appliqué even more, so I hardly ever do hand piecing. I don't mind machine sewing at all - my little featherweight just purrs along so easily. I'm listening to books on CD while I sew - the best of both worlds in my mind. Sometimes I more or less watch a DVD while I sew. I guess I've sewn with a machine so long that I do feel like it's an extension of myself and easily does just what I want it to do.

Finn, I'm sure I'll keep some of my scrappy quilts. We need a new quilt for our bed - the log cabin on it isn't very worn but is certainly looking faded. I also need to make quilts for our beds in the tent trailer. Right now we are using down sleeping bags that are about 36 years old, with lumpy down and hot uncomfortable ripstop nylon coverings. I picture scrap quilts for them, with flannel backs and wool batting - perfect for mountain or ocean weather.

Fiona, I don't see anything dodgy about the darks in your depression block!

Forest Jane, I think the depression block would look terrific with dark shirting plaids. Especially if they are cut off grain every which way, which adds movement and interest.

Quilt Pixie, there probably won't be bags of scraps for sale cheap on my table at the yard sale - just yardage of batiks, modern fabrics (like Nancy Crow's), Orientals, and stacks and stacks of Hoffman florals and Alexander Henry prints. Plus a bunch of lighter weight cotton decorator fabric suitable for quilts, pillows, and more.

Better get back to my sorting. I'm also getting hungry but it's too hot to eat much - think I'll get an apple.

Saturday sewing

I was really looking forward to sleeping in this morning - two days back at work were more than enough to tire me. The main reason - I think - was because I kept thinking how much I'd rather be at home sewing! Anyway, I woke up at my regular get-up time of 5:00, and couldn't go back to sleep due to a sinus headache from allergies. I gave up about 5:30 and got up to sew.

I have a customer quilt that I MUST get to today! But I have a couple goals of my own first. I want to finish stitching up the new Broken Dishes blocks. Did the math yesterday and discovered I used 1620 triangles on this new bunch of blocks! That's 202 + blocks! Once I stitch them I must put them aside, however, until I finish the customer quilt. I can't wait to get it up on the wall to play with again. I've been going through various options in my head, but I'm much better working with the real fabrics.

I also stitched together the new blocks for It's a Wonderful Life and attached them to the rest of the quilt top. I've not reported on that one for awhile, but I'm making good progress. I appliquéd all but two of the blocks while we were camping, and one of the remaining blocks - the flag - while I watched the Mariners lose last night to Detroit. All I have left is a flower block that goes in the upper left corner, plus appliquéd borders. The June mailing contained the Spring and Summer borders, which go down the left side and across the top. I need to make templates for them, choose fabrics from my stash and prep the appliqué. That also must wait until the customer quilt is finished. The August mailing will contain the pattern and directions for the bottom right border -which goes under the stars - and the bottom border. It is the fall and winter border. I just love how this quilt is looking - but I had no idea it would be this big! Sure, the original drawing has the dimensions on it but I didn't think about it. I had to take the ironing board out of the sewing room in order to display the entire quilt on my design board so I could take a picture. This will be great on our bed one of these days!


1. See through plastic boxes
2. Rotary cutters, rulers and mats
3. Tiny ultra light weight spring action thread nippers
4. My design wall
5. Weekends


Friday, July 7, 2006

Easy scrappy patterns

While eating my lunch today I perused Marcia Hohn's Quilters Cache for more patterns to use up all my scraps. I was looking for simple ones using squares and half square triangles, and maybe some bricks, so I can use pieces that are already cut. I know many of you like the patterns in Bonnie's Quiltville -well, Quilters Cache is another rich resource for great free patterns. If you've not ever visited her site you'll find yourself spending lots of time looking through everything she's got. To go directly to the patterns use this link - Quilt Blocks Galore. To see all the patterns - in case you aren't sure what you are looking for - scroll down a way and click on "page 50". From there use the "next" button to work through the 50 pages of patterns.

Here are links to some of the ones I'm considering using for my scraps:

Four Patch Ladder
Buckeye Beauty
Four on the Road
Depression Block - I think I'll start with this one
Gay Two Patch
Glory in Scraps - This one works for red and tan scraps, as long as one has blue fabric with white or tan stars on it. I want to make this one for July for next year.

But first I have to finish the Broken Dishes top!

Scads of scraps

I got back to working on my scrap quilt last night (see the posts from last week). I settled on a midnight blue frame for around the larger Broken Dishes blocks. That is sewn onto the center. All the rest of the half square triangle squares are trimmed, pressed and stitched into pairs. Tonight I'll stitch the pairs together to form more little Broken Dishes blocks. I still haven't counted how many triangles there are - hundreds and hundreds I'm sure. I'll post a picture when I have those blocks sewn onto the center.

I also did some organization and sorting last night. Two weeks from tomorrow I'm renting a table - $5 - at the "yard sale" behind my favorite quilt shop. I'm taking lots of the things I'm no longer interested in - hoping they will turn out to be someone else's "treasure". I'll put low prices on everything as I hope to sell as much as possible. No - I won't spend the "earnings" on more fabric - I don't need it! Instead I plan on making an extra payment on my longarm and getting some more longarm supplies that I've been wanting.

I'm re-evaluating how I cut and store my scraps, taking some ideas from Bonnie's Scrap User's system and adding some of my own. I'm re-labeling all my plastic boxes, readying them for newly cut scraps. I've put quite a few box contents into ziploc bags to sell - like my Christmas fabrics that keep appearing no matter how many things I make from them. The scariest thing I did was combine all my "uncut scraps" into two big containers and set them out to work on. I can't believe how many there are! I knew the large white box was jammed packed with scraps, and I had 2-3 other totes that were filled loosely. I jammed everything from them - and I mean jammed - into the big paper bag. When I look at them I have very mixed feelings - knowing it'll take almost forever to get through them all, but also excited to revisit all those pieces of fabric. I think - no, I know! - I'm obsessed!

Forest Jane wanted to know why I was wearing a sweatshirt in the pictures since it was so hot. We were lucky - it cooled off nicely in the evenings, and mornings were also cool. The heat started around noon and lasted until about 6:00 or so when a little breeze would come up. That's usually the way it is in our mountains - we've been there only once when it didn't cool off at night, and that's when it was over 100 in the daytime. I think our temperatures were around 88 to 90, dropping to the 60's at night. I think it was around 9:00 on Saturday morning when Rebecca took the pictures, so it's probably in the mid 60's.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

We had a wonderful time . . . .

Camping with our kids this past weekend - even though the weather was too hot. I got up at 5:00 a.m. last Friday so I could finish packing and do the food shopping before picking up Fred at the airport just before 11:00. We were on the road by 12:30 and at the campsite by 2:00. Our little "home away from home" takes very little time to set up, so we were in our camp chairs relaxing in no time at all. Rebecca and Rick arrived about 30 minutes after we did - delayed by having to get a new battery put in their CRV. Jeremy and Chelsea arrived a little after 8:00 that evening, as they both had to work a normal day. We played lots of games, waded the river, walked the campground, and got in some reading. We didn't eat meals as planned because it was so hot no one wanted to cook hot food for dinner. So it was sandwiches, fruit, salad, cookies and chips all weekend. Saturday was the only day anyone wanted more than oatmeal or cereal and juice for breakfast. That made it really easy for the cook! I even got in some stitching - finishing all but two of the appliqué blocks for It's a Wonderful Life. Usually I'm the photographer, but I gave the camera to Rebecca on Saturday morning so she could get some shots for me to post. I'm doing bacon and eggs for those who wanted them - very casual in that I just passed around the bacon as it was done. I don't think we ever all sat down together at the table for a meal - instead staying in the comfortable chairs and eating as it took our fancy. Lots of together time playing Yatzee, Sequence, Mille Bournes, 31, dominoes, and other games. Both sets of kids brought huge totes of games from home so we didn't even get out the ones we keep in the trailer.

I savored every minute of this vacation. I'm heading back to work relaxed and rested - just what I wanted. Also with a new determination to think twice and thrice before spending money so I can push up my retirement date as much as possible. I know there will be lots to catch up on when I get to work this morning - that's OK. I think I'm ready to focus again. Besides, in two days it'll be the weekend!