Friday, March 30, 2007

Fickle quilter . . . .

Thy name is Patti! Here I've been piecing up a storm from my scraps and accomplishing much in the way of charity quilting. But all it takes is one little detour and before I know it I'm wandering down an entirely different path. I blame it on the one appliqué block I had to finish for Posies and Points, and the great feeling of moving a project from the UFT list to the flimsies list.

So what am I doing now? Well, I'm back to appliqué and Heirloom Stitches. I've not touched this project since last year. When I put it away I still had appliqué to complete on two November blocks and all of December's blocks to make, plus the border. I'm now working on the last November block - the worktable looks a little different when I'm doing appliqué than when I'm piecing, doesn't it? Fred spend the evening upstairs watching hockey so I put the last two episodes of the second season of MI5 in the DVD player in the sewing room and sat appliquéing using the good light on my featherweight table. I've pulled all the completed blocks out of the closet and hung them in plain sight on the door where they can motivate me to finish. I'm hoping to get the rest of the pieced blocks done this weekend as well as finishing this block, and maybe do the prep on the last of the appliqué blocks.

I also dug out my pre-1830's medallion to see if it would start talking to me. I was at a loss last fall as far as the next border - it just wasn't telling me what it needed. So I pinned it up on my design wall and looked through the choices for the next border in "Lesson 9". Wouldn't you know it - it started talking to me immediately and told me just what it needs. And I'm happy to report it's something quite simple that shouldn't take much time at all. That's a good thing - I want to finish this top also because I've already started on my first block for the mid-century album quilt.

In the meantime the fabrics for Joseph's quilt have been set aside. I'll get back to that very soon - it's just not what is calling to me this weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday at home day

Just a short post to let you know I'm still here at home, but am finally starting to feel a bit better. I slept half the day yesterday so I couldn't go to sleep until after midnight last night - so of course I slept in until 10:00 this morning. Still trying to wake up!

We had great news from our daughter and son-in-law yesterday - All God's Children in Guatemala has placed a little boy with them. I have pictures but I can't post them. His name is Diogenes Santiago - he won't become Joseph Logan until they have him in their arms on the airplane coming home in 4-7 months. He was born on March 19th. He has LOTS of hair and is healthy. His Apgar score is somewhere in the 90th percentile. They expect to fly to Guatemala on April 12th to sign all the final papers and spend some time with him. I imagine they had lots of trouble sleeping last night. It's been along wait - they started the process on March 1st of last year.

So now it's time I get started on his quilt. I scanned the cover of the book so I could show you the picture. I'll make some changes as I want it bigger, and I know I won't put eyelet around the edges. They requested baby animals and color crayon colors - bright primary and secondary colors. I hope I can find enough of those in my stash - I don't have nearly as many as I thought I did. One of the pieces of blue Shadow Play that I bought last weekend will be perfect for the borders.

1. A baby for Rebecca and Rick
2. Starting to feel better
3. Paid sick leave!
4. A beautiful spring day outside
5. Lovely spring flowers


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hotel Hope Quilts

Just a couple more pictures then I'll call it a day. I need to get to bed early as I've been unable to nap today in spite of being so very tired.

I took a picture of the finished sashed string top. I moved the coffee table, rocker and wing chair out of the way so I could lay it out flat, then I carefully stood on a dining chair to get the best shot I could. As it was I had to hold the camera above my head and guess at the centering. I took 8 shots and this was the best. (The dog wandered into a couple of them so that disqualified them right away.) I was afraid I'd fall getting down as my wool socks were slippery on the bare wood of the chair but I managed OK.

With the addition of a row of large blocks on both the side and the bottom it is now big enough. I decided not to put an outer solid black border on it because I didn't want it to be too big. Hopefully I can get this quilted and bound in the next couple weeks. I also have three tops done by others in the guild that I need to quilt. Hotel Hope is going to be a colorful place very soon!

The second picture shows the label I stitched onto the back of the Postage Stamp quilt. Our guild member with the embroidery machine is still trying out design ideas. We want to include the star block as it is the symbol for our North Star guild.

My sewing room and stash

Suzette has suggested we talk about our sewing room/area and post pictures if we dare. It's been awhile since I posted pictures so I took new ones a few minutes ago. I didn't do any straightening up so you can see that I work fairly neatly. Clutter drives me nuts so as soon as it gets to a certain point I have to do something about it. It would look much worse if I were pulling fabric for a new project - right now the table is clear because I knew I'd need to stretch the top out to measure for borders.

The first picture shows the view looking inside the door. This is a small room - about 9'x12'. You can see my ironing board, the light box underneath it, and the stack or recent purchases waiting to be washed. My design wall is pellon fleece stapled all over the wall behind the ironing board - floor to ceiling. The bookcase holds novelties, florals, thirties repros and plaids, as well as odds and ends stuff I need within reach of the ironing board. Plastic shoe boxes of cut scraps plus all my rolled Baltimore Album patterns live on top of the bookcase. You can also see my TV/DVD player combination - a birthday gift from my DH.

The second picture shows the view from the ironing board. In the front is my featherweight that I use for all my piecing. The filing cabinet holds patterns as well as stuff I've saved from over 20 years of quilting magazines. The two sets of stacking drawers hold sewing stuff and part of my wool stash. Behind the chair were you can't see it is a short rolling set of drawers that I use for a portable pressing station and storage of stuff needed near the machine. When I'm sewing I roll it so I can just pivot in my chair to press what I'm working on.

The third picture shows part of my stash storage and my worktable. This also taken from the ironing board-bookcase corner.

The next picture is a view into the closet from in front of the filing cabinet. Two tall stacks of plastic drawers hold my "brazen hussies" - "haven't started yets" that are more than a year old. As you can see by the sidebar I have 50 of these - number 51 is the one I just bought this past weekend so it's not yet "brazen". Four tubs on the top of the drawers hold various widths of strips. This picture also gives you a better view of the tall bookcase of fabric. The blue box holds my strings, and under it out of sight are my two baskets of Jo Morton fabrics and my last big tub of uncut and unsorted scraps.

Here you see the stacking plastic baskets that line the wall between the closet and the drawer. They hold yardage that measures 1/2 yard and larger. I've had them for years, and they are starting to sag under the weight. I hope to replace them with more bookcases in the next year or two, as bookcases would be narrower - giving me more room to walk. I could also see the fabric better, as the front lip of the baskets hide the bottom fabrics in each of the stacks.

The last picture shows my worktable. It's gerryrigged from stacking plastic cubes I've had forever, two chip board risers I built from scraps, and the closet door sitting on top. It's just the right height for rotary cutting, and provides lots of storage underneath for tubs of scraps and drawers of current projects and HSY's. They also hold the magazines I've not found time to rip apart and file. I'd like to get a real cutting table someday that isn't as wide as this so I'll have more room to move. Right now there's about 14" clearance all around the table, and I have to get down on my hands and knees with a flashlight to find fabric on the bottom shelves.

You can certainly see why I am no-buy except for rare exceptions like this past weekend retreat. I do use my stash constantly however. I rarely buy anything for a new project unless it's an occasional kit. I love being able to pull fabrics for a new project whenever I want to, and not have to wait until the stores are open. I hope you can get some ideas from my pictures that will help you solve your own fabric storage problems - if you have any.

Tuesday update

Thanks for all the well wishes you've sent - cyber friends are the best! I'm home for the second day in a row, but feeling just a little better I think. Yesterday I spent most of the day sleeping but today I've been awake quite a bit - I think that sounds like I'm better.

This morning I got dressed and went to work just long enough for my boss to give me my annual review. She took one look at me and asked why in the world I was there instead of home in bed. Well, since Thursday is her last day before retirement I told her I figured we'd better get this done as scheduled. By 9:00 I was back home, back in pajamas and back in bed but couldn't go to sleep. So I thought I'd try sewing as I couldn't seem to focus on the computer screen enough to read blogs.

I'm doing OK for now. I finished my 2006 Jan Patek Mystery top. The pattern is called "Posies and Points". It's now crossed off the UFT list and added to the Flimsies list. I really like how it turned out. I also think it's almost time for me to lie down and take a nap now that I've finished that project.

I did a little sidebar reorganization while I was doing the updating. It felt like I was just treading water every time I listed a new string quilt to replace the one I just finished. I didn't like that feeling at all, so I came up with a new category - "Ongoing Scrap-busting Stuff". That way I can keep track of things I'm doing to clear out the scrap bins but I won't count them as UFO's. Seems fair to me!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back from the retreat

I had a fabulous time at the retreat - except for the fact that I started getting sick on Saturday morning and am now home feeling lousy with a nasty cold bug of some kind. I don't even feel like sitting at the computer or sewing so you know how lousy I feel!

In did get a lot accomplished at the retreat - more that I ever imagined I could. Believe it or not I worked on almost everything I took with me.

I made more blocks for my black sashed string quilt and finished that top. I made 25 string blocks with red centers for another Hotel Hope string quilt - that's a good start for that one.

I did some Crumb Chaos blocks so I could demo the process to some of others. I'd never done them before so it was new to me also. They are so much fun, very addicting, and really go together quickly. After I put everything away yesterday I cut up the scraps I'd created at retreat and made a bunch more of them. So now I have a good start on a Crumb Chaos Hotel Hope quilt too.

I almost left my 2006 Jan Patek mystery quilt - "Posies and Points" - at home. It was one of the projects I kept taking out and putting away while I was packing. I'm really glad I took it because I finished all but one of the November appliqué blocks and stitched most of it together. I've not shown a picture of this project for a long time so some of you may not have seen it. I love how it's turning out - I may make this into my bed quilt for camping in our tent trailer. I think I'll big stitch it with Cebelia, using a nice wool batting and a flannel back. I'm hoping I can get the last block appliquéd today - if I can find the energy somewhere.
As far as will power and not buying - well, I failed miserably at that. I decided it was OK if I spent, however, as this was a special time. My boss told me I'd receive a very nice bonus this week when she did my yearly review, so I decided that was really a gift and I could spend some of it how I wanted to. Some of the purchases were legal - four, 3-yard pieces of bright Shadow Play fabric for sashings and borders on scrappy quilts and three, 2 1/2-yard pieces of warm light neutrals for backgrounds on reproduction quilts. My indulgences were a packet of fabrics to make "Reminiscence" by Lori Smith, as well as packets of blue, neutral, pink and brown reproduction fabrics. The picture is of Sharon who owns Momma Made It and the Reminiscence quilt. I also bought one book - Medallion Quilts by Cindy Vermillion Hamilton. None of those were necessities, but they were things I wanted. I figured I deserved a gift after being good for so long!

I'm totally behind on my blog reading - Bloglines says I have 142 updated feeds. As long as I don't fall asleep sitting at the computer I should be able to at least find the energy to read.
1. New fabric to fondle and drool over
2. A new quilt book to read
3. Wonderful quilty friends
4. Quilting retreats
5. My own bed


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Too many choices!

Can you hear my lament? "Oh, what not to take, what not to take!"
Notice the operative word - NOT.

I know I can't take everything. Common sense tells me that . After all, I have only 3.5 days of sewing at this retreat. Of course that's sewing morning, afternoon and night, with only small breaks for sleeping and eating - but I know I just can't do it all. So I pulled things out of the sewing room and stacked them on the dining room table. Of course I took my strings - that's my current project. And the box is now full again since I dumped a fresh supply of strips into it. And the crumbs of course - I've been so eager to try some "Crumb Chaos" blocks. That means I need strips for those, so I added the two totes of 1 3/4" strips. (Two totes? How did I manage to have two totes of strips this size?" Then my hourglass blocks as there are great design walls all over the classroom where we will be retreating. But what if I get tired of sewing scraps? No problem - I pulled my Jan Patek 2006 mystery quilt. All I have left is the two pieced blocks from December plus the remaining applique from November. And the applique will provide something in case I get tired of sitting at the machine. If I do all of those I can start sewing all the blocks together. I might even be able to finish the top! Then there is that drawer of orphan blocks that I added lots and lots of oddball things to when I cut up all my scraps. Since I'm taking strips I might as well take those along too - I can sew them into regular size blocks for another charity quilt. And I can't forget my hand quilting project - that's one of my oldest UFO's and some concentrated quilting time could get it much closer to being done. Of course I need to take along the top I was working on last Saturday so I can either add borders or make more blocks. And then . . . .
Whoa there Patti! You are staying only until late Sunday morning - not until summer. Where is your reason and common sense? This is ridiculous!

So I put back the mystery quilt - I can do that later. I put back the hour glass blocks. While I'm doing that I decide I might run out of 1 3/4" strips so I add the tote of 1 1/4" strips - after all, wouldn't it be nice to use up all those oddball sizes? I add back the November mystery blocks - a bit of applique to take along is a good idea. I put away the hand quilting - I've taken it the last three years and never touched it. But since I've put back that much I take the hour glass blocks back out and add them to the stack.
Oh yes - can't forget notebook, camera, show and tell quilts, stuff for the mid-century album class since I need to come back Thursday night long enough to attend class, rolling tote of sewing supplies, ironing pad, travel iron, rulers, cutting board, and featherweight. I'm sure I've forgotten something.

Well, my lunch time is over and I need to get back to work. I'm due to give my assistant a coaching review and I've not yet written up the paper work. I have a bunch of other stuff to take care of so I can leave by 1:00 tomorrow afternoon. Who knows what will be added and subtracted to the pile tonight and tomorrow while I'm packing the car.

Clothes, you ask? Oh yeah - I'd better pack a suitcase too. Not a problem - I can do that tomorrow before I leave. That's the easy part - 10 minutes tops is all it will take to do that.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Strips and Strings

No new pictures in today's post because I was so busy sewing yesterday that I forgot to take any! Everyone made great progress on quilts for Hotel Hope. I finished the string blocks for my string quilt and sewed it all together - and discovered I need to put very wide borders on it or sew more blocks. (I put up an old picture of the project so you'll know what I'm talking about.) Our Hotel Hope quilts need to measure at least 63" x 87" and mine is about 15" short in each direction. I don't think it can handle borders that big so I'm going to be doing some more blocks. I also brought home two tops with batting and backing that others finished - I'll do a large meander on the longarm and then return them to the makers for binding.

I'm sewing my string blocks on old phonebook pages as recommended by Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville. The other 6 quilters who were at the Hotel Hope sew-in were fascinated by what I was doing, as none of them had ever made any string blocks. By mid-afternoon they all decided they wanted to try but most of them claimed the didn't have many strings at home. One new member in particular has no scraps as she's just gotten back into quilting. I told her to grab a handful or two from my box as it still seemed clear full and I had another tote full also. She did just that, and then a couple others asked if they could take some. I said sure, why not. In the meantime one of them had been cutting lots of strings from donation fabric we were given - making them wonky uneven widths because they liked the looks of mine. She tossed all the strips into my box so everyone grabbed more. After another 30 minutes or so a couple others came over and asked for strings. The box was getting noticeably emptier but I said sure - as I figured there were still lots. Well, by the time they were all done they'd emptied the smaller tote and almost emptied my box! I said "Whoa! I need some to finish my quilt! So they each brought back a handful or two, but still I went home with probably 25% of the strings I came with. It was so much fun watching them all get so excited about the strings! I can hardly wait to see what they come up with. I have a feeling there will be several string quilts in our initial Hotel Hope donation. And now my box is once again full because I dumped in a tote full of 7/8" strips and one of 1 1/4" strips.

Wednesday afternoon I'm leaving for quilt retreat with my PINS friends - I can hardly wait. This is a group of us that met on the Internet, and we get together for a retreat twice a year. If you'd like to read about our other retreats go to this post and this post and this post. We are once again in the basement of my favorite quilt shop Momma Made It for our spring retreat. This will be a huge test of my will power. I'm going to allow myself a small amount for shopping - after all, we'll be there four days and I'm certainly not a saint! I'm going to try to do way better than I've done in past years, however. I'm taking mainly scraps to work on - my strings, my 2" squares, my crumbs and two sizes of strips for sewing mile-a-minute blocks. I'm also taking all my orphan blocks plus a lot of other oddball leftovers as I thought it would be fun to design a "kitchen sink" quilt as all the classroom walls are covered design walls. Of course I'm taking hand quilting and hand appliqué also - just in case I get tired of sitting at my machine. I'll take lots of pictures and give a full report when I get home.

1. Breakfast with all our kids and our new granddaughter
2. A brilliant daughter who fixed my computer problem that stopped me from downloading pictures.
3. At least a half dozen small totes and boxes now empty that used to be full of cut scraps.
4. Beautiful spring sunshine
5. Laundry that is almost caught up!


Friday, March 16, 2007

The last stitch is taken

Tonight I put the last stitches in the binding of the Postage Stamp quilt. Hooray! Another UFO bites the dust! I really like how it turned out, except for the fact that I don't particularly care for the 8 oz. batting. I think it's a great charity quilt just as is - nice and large and comfy. Someone else in the guild is doing labels on her embroidery machine so I didn't have to worry about a label. I'll take it to the work party tomorrow to show the others.

For those of you who've not read the story of why I have baskets of 2" squares to use up, there are three links at the bottom of this post that tell the story.

Tomorrow we have an all day work session, so I'm taking my strings to sew. I hope to finish piecing the string top tomorrow, plus start the blocks for a second string top. I have so many strings in that box to use up!

I am SO happy!

I'm sure some of you can relate - I just can't help sharing my joy. I finished paying off our auto loan with my paycheck yesterday! That means only two more loans to go - about 10 months on the longarm and 15 months on the house and then we are completely out of debt! (Knock on wood!) This goal is one of my main reasons for that "fabric diet" badge on my sidebar.

Linda, this post for an explanation of "HSY" and "flimsy". I always answer questions in comments when I can reply by email, but rarely when I can't. Please everyone, if you want answers to the questions you ask in your comments please make sure you are set up so your email address displays in your profile. Click "edit profile" and make sure there is a check in the box that says "show my email address". Even if you don't want to keep a blog you can register with Blogger so your email address is accessible.

1. A silvery thin crescent moon in the early morning sky
2. Fridays!
3. Hot tea with milk
4. A UFO almost completed
5. Sleeping in this morning


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The stitches are out

I got the stitches taken out of my finger today and all is well. Looks like I'll probably have a permanent dent in my finger now but if that's the only reminder I have I consider myself very lucky! Careful with those rotary cutters ladies!
Still stitching the binding on the postage stamp quilt - I have about 1/3 of the way around left to go. I'm happy to report I busted another piece of fabric from my stash when I made the binding - it took every scrap. I will finish stitching it on tomorrow for sure. I'll post a picture when it's done. It's been a challenge to wrap the binding around the edge with this 8 oz. batting inside, even though I cut the binding 1/8" wider than I normally do. I think I'll leave the rest of the 8 oz. batting rolls to the ladies who are tying their quilts, and will use some of my Quilters Dream poly roll int he rest of the donation quilts I do. The 8 oz. is much more suited to tying than to quilting.

The pictures today are two quilts I took out of storage for spring display. The Sunbonnet Sue was made in a class I took years and years ago on invisible machine appliqué. This was before there were any books showing how to do this. We used gluestick and freezer paper to prepare the pieces, then a blind hem stitch in invisible nylon thread for the appliqué. The green Sue in the close-up has a dress made from the scraps of a maternity smock I made myself. The finish date on the label says 1995, which is when I finished the quilting and binding. I'm guessing the top was finished at least 7-8 years before that. The Ohio star was made in 1992 for a class sample at Daisy Kingdom, and quilted in 2003. It's one of the first quilts I machine quilted using freemotion quilting on my Pfaff. The tension is far from great and the stitches are way too small, but since it's invisible thread you have to look really close to tell that. In spite of the quilting it's still one of my favorite quilts - I love the colors.

1. Beautiful blue sky with white and gray clouds today
2. Daffodils everywhere
3. The first asparagus of spring
4. Daylight savings time - I love it!
5. Payday tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Oldest UFO's

Suzette suggested we post about our oldest UFO's this week. Great minds think alike Suzette - that's just what I've been blogging about LOL! I didn't identify most of them as such, however, so I'll do that now.
Turns out my oldest UFO is my Baltimore Album Quilt, which I started in 1989. I talked about it and posted pictures in this post.

I thought my oldest UFO was Grandmothers Choice, or Fancy Nine Patch. I thought I'd started it in 1988 - that's what it says on my UFO spreadsheet. Now that I've unearthed the pattern I see it was published in Quilters Newsletter in April, 1990. So it now becomes my second oldest UFO, started one year after the Album Quilt.

My third oldest UFO is the Rabbit Garden round robin. I posted pictures of it in my post from last Wednesday. It was started in 1991. Tonight I loaded it on the longarm and started the quilting. I'm trying some things I've not done before so it's not my best quilting, but done is much better than perfect. I hope to have it finished by the end of next weekend so I can put it on the dining table for an Easter decoration. But first I have some ripping to do - I tried doing a wreath with contrasting thread and I'm nowhere good enough yet to do that.

The fourth oldest UFO is the set of spring friendship blocks that I showed you last Thursday. I received them in 1992.

The fifth oldest UFO is one that I'm hand quilting. I've been hand quilting it for years. Maybe this is the year I'll get it finished. I think I'm all done with the blocks and have only the sashing and border to do. I really need to get it out and work on it. Because it's the only one I've not already shown you I've posted pictures of this one. The pattern was in an old Quiltmaker magazine, and I no longer have either the date of the magazine or the designer of the quilt. I made this for a class sample when I was teaching quilting at Daisy Kingdom in the early 90's. The start date for this quilt is 1992. When I hand quilt I always quilt the quilt to death - this quilt is no exception. Unfortunately the quilting in the blocks doesn't show up all that well.
About time I got these oldies but goodies finished, don't you think?
1. Flowering trees bursting into bloom everywhere.
2. Tacos for dinner
3. Firm date set for my retirement - Friday June 27, 2008
4. New pictures of Sophie and her daddy
5. Six deck card shuffler won on Ebay for playing Hand and Foot

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Time well spent

I'm happy to report that I had a nice productive weekend. I quilted the postage stamp quilt, made the binding and machine stitched it on, and got one of the long edges all hand stitched. I had to clear off my cutting table in order to trim the batting and backing even with the edge of the quilt, so I put all the scraps I'd cut into the proper containers. I'd cut a lot of half square triangles of lots of different sides in addition to strips, squares, crumbs and strings - I matched them all up into pairs, stitched them together, pressed the seams and trimmed them to size. The little half square triangle squares went into the crumb box and the bigger ones went into the drawer of orphan blocks. Lots of rectangles cut from leftover strip sets also went into that drawer. I'm getting a nice collection there so will start putting them into a charity top before too long. I pieced a backing for the bunny rabbit flimsy that I showed you a few days ago, and started pinning it onto the quilting machine. I'll finish doing that tomorrow night, and may even start the quilting.

I found the pattern and templates for Grandmother's Choice in my filing cabinet, and the rest of the backing fabric in my fat quarter stack of backgrounds. Plenty to make two more blocks so I can make them into a 3x3 quilt. I'm eager to working on that one - the bright colors are so pretty against the white. I'll hand piece these two blocks like the rest of them were done - some relaxing work for Tuesday night quilt group. I tucked the spring blocks back into the drawer they came from - I'll think about them another day. I also tucked away the 30's blocks, along with Around the Block with Judy Hopkins. I've marked a bunch of 6" blocks with post-it's that I'll make to add to what I have. I'll have a quilt big enough for a baby quilt or a decorator throw for my little bench in the entry way.

I have a friend on the east coast who is wanting to make some Amish inspired quilts who was talking about shopping for solid colors. Since my solid color fabrics have been sitting on the shelves upstairs for years and years - I very rarely use solids in quilts any more - I told her I'd pull all the Amish-looking colors and send them to her. I'm happy to report that was about half my stash of solids - hooray! I completely filled two $8.10 priority mail boxes - stuffed to the max - plus a $4.05 priority envelope. Took them back to the PO Saturday afternoon. Talk about busting stash - what a great feeling!

I even finished switching out my dishes! I can't believe we were still using our "Winter Dishes" - I refuse to call them Christmas dishes since this year we used them until March. I normally put them away early in February - since the design is holly I figure it's not strictly Christmas - but I've been too busy sewing and visiting with Jeremy, Chelsea, and Sophie. Never mind that we were still drinking coffee, tea and cocoa out of Santa Claus mugs - minor details, right? Now the regular dishes are back out - just in time for our balmy spring-weather day. M-60's outside and mid-70's in the house even without any heat turned on. No wonder I was way too warm in bed last night!

I hate to write a post without pictures. Since I didn't take any pictures of anything I did this weekend. I'll leave you with a couple new pictures of Miss Sophie.

1. Puffy batting quilted up fine on the machine
2. Short sleeve weather
3. More light in the evening - I'm one who likes daylight savings time
4. Fresh baked sourdough bread
5. More stash busted


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Scraps and UFT's

Jenni at Fairybread asked me how I knew which scraps to cut up and which ones I should leave whole because I might want that fabric just as is for a later project. Good question Jenni!

I have my fabric folded "just so" on my shelves. For those of you who've not seen it before here is a picture. As long as I can continue to fold the fabric on the original fold lines so it is neat looking and I can get a folded edge that can be seen on the edge of the stack I don't call it a "scrap". I fold it up on the existing folds and put it back in the stack. I know some people strip the remainder of a fat quarter as soon as they've cut into it. I don't do that.

The second picture shows what some of my scraps look like. These are truly scraps - small, oddball shaped pieces, left over half square triangle squares, long skinny pieces, crumbs and strings. That's why it takes so long to trim them into shapes - there are lots and lots of little pieces in that stack you saw in my previous post. Once I finish cutting up all of these I'm going to keep up with the scraps - nothing will go into a general bin to be "dealt with later". That's how I ended up with the mess I'm dealing with now. Those of you who've been reading my blog for awhile know that I can't bear to throw away any piece of fabric larger than 1" per side. I know - I'm a bit crazy and demented when it comes to fabric - I can't help it. I'm an addict.

I thought I'd share some UFT's tonight - projects that are not finished tops. The first two are from a friendship exchange and the third group was made by me.

The appliqué pieces are done on a calico background from the '80's that I provided. The theme was "spring" and they could do whatever they wanted. I love the blocks but the background makes them really busy. It's time I took them out of the drawer, put them up on the design wall and figured out how to "tame" them.

The second group was done long ago in the late 1980's. The block is called Grandmother's Choice if I remember right. I got it out of a Quilters Newsletter. I gave everyone a baggie with the white pieces already cut out and asked them to add brights from their own stash. These were from the days of templates - I gave everyone plastic templates for the brights. I don't think I have the pattern or the templates any more, so even though I have one baggie of white pieces left I don't think I can make another block. So I need to figure out what to do with these 7 blocks.

The last set of blocks I made when I was doing a monthly $5 quilt at a shop nearby. One of those where as long as you bring back the finished block you got the next kit for free. The kits I got were for 12" blocks in Civil War reproductions. Each month that we brought a second block from the same pattern in we got our name in a drawing for a prize. I chose to reduce each pattern to a 6" block and make it from 30's reproductions. Here is a picture of the top I made from the 12" blocks - the first picture in the post - I'm sure you can identify some of the patterns. After 7 months the shop closed. They gave us the rest of the block patterns but I no longer had any motivation to shrink each pattern down to 6" size and duplicate the rest of the blocks.

1. Tomorrow is Friday!
2. Breakfast for dinner tonight
3. The forsythia is in full bloom
4. An entire weekend coming up for quilting
5. Low fat pepper bacon


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Flimsies 6 and 19

Since I'm going to be cutting scraps and making string blocks for awhile I probably won't have anything new and exciting to show you for the next 2-3 weeks. I still want to post, so I thought this might be a good time to show you some of my flimsies waiting for quilting.

Flimsy #6 is what's left from a round robin that I participated in over15 years ago. The Rose of Sharon center was my entry in the guild's yearly block contest. Just days before I was to hand it in it got buried under a few fabrics on my cutting table - and I accidentally cut into the edge with my rotary cutter. It was supposed to be a finished 12" block, and I sliced about 1/2" too far in towards the center. I couldn't enter it in the contest so I threw it in the drawer. I pulled it out a couple years later to be the center of the first round robin I ever participated in.

I loved my center block, but months later when the finished top was revealed to me I gazed upon it with horror. I loved what had been done up until a certain point, but the last three borders went from bad to worse. I stuffed it in a drawer for several years.

When I joined Stashbusters for the first time on January 1, 2002 I ruthlessly began culling my UFO's. That's when I took a good look at this flimsy, decided I liked it well enough to salvage it, so I ripped off the last three borders. Out went the terrible screaming hot pink polka dot that was the outer border. Off came the brown border with a "nest" in one corner constructed from a crazy log cabin block that was stuffed so full of polyfill that it weighed down the entire corner. Off went the border just outside the rabbits - the border on muslin with three dimensional seed packets including pictures, etc. of marijuana plants. What you see is what was left - which I like a lot. I love the rabbits running through the briar patch - see the thorns on the brambles made from bugle beads?

Flimsy #19 is from a pattern called "My House" by the little quilts ladies. I bought the pattern and a kit for this quilt years and years ago at the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon. I made the top several years later, then added it to my "to be quilted pile where it has sat ever since.

These are two of the flimsies I hope to quilt in the next few weeks, as I think they both work well for the upcoming seasons. I already have the binding made for the second one. Neither should take all that long to quilt, so I hope I can show these to you as two finished projects by the end of March.


1. Frogs singing everywhere in the evening
2. Dinner with our kids
3. A sound Hand and Foot win for the girls - we trounced the guys!
4. Spring pajama weather
5. A very confused, blooming Thanksgiving cactus


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I'll never keep up with my reading now

I emailed pictures to myself at work this morning so I could post during lunch. When I tried to bring up Blogger I discovered - to my horror! - that the new firewall installed over the weekend now blocks all "newsgroups and discussion lists", which includes all blogs. When you work for a financial institution you accept the fact that Internet restrictions will exist because the member database computer must be protected from viruses at all costs. This, however, seems a little extreme. Blogs aren't deemed to be "of business use" and are therefore blocked. During work sure - but lunch time?

Anyway - lunch is when I did most of my blog reading. Now it must be at home, and I'll have to choose between reading and sewing. A terrible dilemma? I'll still read all I can, but I'll have to be less generous with my comments. I hate to do that! Another reason for the fabric diet and a big push for retirement!

I'm back to typing with 10 fingers all of the time - thank goodness, as larg bandages result in terrible typos - and have only a small band-aid on my finger. I can now get it wet - no more showers with my hand in a plastic bag! I spent 2 1/2 hours cutting scraps last night and don't have that much to show for it. I keep telling myself lots and lots went into both the string and the crumb box. Also big square and rectangular hunks of leftover strip sets went into the orphan block drawer. That left the meager collection of squares, bricks and triangles you see here. The pile of ironed scraps doesn't look that big - but let me tell you - take your estimated time to cut your scraps and multiply it by a number between 5 and 10 to get the real number of hours it will take. I'm trying to do at least two, 15-minute sessions a day. One in the morning when I'm usually on the computer, and one while dinner is cooking before evening activities begin. Hopefully those short segments of time will result in a much smaller stack by the weekend - a stack I can easily finish by the end of the weekend to come.

In the pictures you see my string box (with the last bin of scraps hiding below it), my crumb box, my stack of pressed fabrics still to cut up, and my meager piles of cut shapes. I think it's a good thing the piles are so meager - there is next to no room left in any of my "shape boxes".

I'm dreaming of all the wonderful scrap quilts I'll piece once I'm finished with this cutting. The possibilities are almost endless. It's going to be so hard to choose - and so much fun choosing and stitching! I can hardly wait!
1. A wonderful warm day of 65 degrees
2. An old friend from work has returned to work for us again
3. An excellent steak for dinner
4. New pictures of Sophie
5. New challenges at work

Monday, March 5, 2007


Thanks, everyone, for your concerned comments. I really appreciated them! My finger is healing nicely so far. I'm down to a real bandaid and more or less typing with 10 fingers. I finished pressing all the scraps last night and started cutting them. Didn't have any trouble holding the ruler steady, but noticed I have my hand way away from the edge. I'm not using a ruler larger than 6 1/2" by 12 1/2" so it's easy to keep it steady with my entire hand. I found a place to order the protective glove so will get that done as soon as I figure out what size to order. My mother would have called that "locking the barn door after the horse is stolen", but I say better late than never.

I'm planning on cutting scraps all evening so should have some pictures for you then.

1. Warm spring weather
2. Crocus and daffodils blooming everywhere
3. Forsythia bushes ready to burst into bloom
4. Rebecca and Rick are now at the very top of the adoption list!!!!
5. Less than two weeks until quilt retreat!


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Near tragedy!

OK - I guess I'm being a bit melodramatic - though I am typing this post with only nine fingers.

Ladies, please be careful when using those rotary cutters! All it takes is a moment of inattention - a moment of looking up - a moment of having your mind on something else. I'm always so careful when I cut - rotary cutter safety is one of the very first things I teach new quilters. Now I know - it takes only a moment for an accident to happen.

Cher and I were having a great time and making good inroads on our scraps at our "cutting party". Shortly after lunch I managed to lose my attention to the task at hand for just a moment - I think I looked up at Cher. That was all it took for the rotary cutter to slip up onto the ruler and slice deeply into the side my left index index finger at the base of my fingernail - almost to the bone. Of course I'd put in a new blade in honor of our cutting party. I applied pressure immediately and Fred drove me to Urgency Care. Now I have three big stitches in my finger that I can see - there may be more inside - and a huge gauze dressing. The young, very good looking PA (why are they always young and good looking when I've done something stupid?) who stitched me up said it could have been so much worse considering everything. So for the next few days I may be limited on what I can do. Certainly no hand stitching and probably no rotary cutting. The stitches will come out in 10 days.

Since I couldn't cut last night I used the time to sort through all the rest of the scraps in the big white bin. Most of what was left were either crumbs or strings that I didn't bother to press. I set aside the ones big enough to press and trim and then trashed all the littlest scraps. (I don't know what I was thinking - didn't I have a garbage can in my early days of quilting? What possessed me to save scraps 1/2" on a side?)
I can't begin to describe the great sense of accomplishment I felt when I reached the bottom of that bin! Now I've transferred all the rest of my scraps - which are large and will cut into nice usable shapes - from a big cardboard box into the white bin. (These are the scraps that are in the bag in the picture.) This gave me the big cardboard box for strings so I could combine three string containers into one. This in turn gave me a plastic box big enough to dump the two smaller crumb boxes into. I now have only one box or bin for each size scrap. All that's left is to press the ones I set aside for trimming, then actually trim them all. It's the trimming that takes the longest time. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I can finish that task.

Once I do that I'm going to have to make quilts with scraps until I make a significant inroad into all the bins and boxes. No point in starting to trim the other box full as I have no space in any of the sorting bins and boxes for any more pieces! I see several more string quilts and a whole bunch of mile-a-minute blocks in my near future. Just perfect for the charity sewing I need to be doing. And that will be only the beginning of sewing up the scraps. I think I can make quilts for the next two years without cutting into any of my big pieces of fabric!
Now that is a sobering thought.
1. My finger is going to be OK
2. My new iron
3. Urgency care
4. An extensive collection of scraps
5. Wool socks

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Your wish is my command

A few of you wanted to see Sophie with her quilt. My daughter-in-law must have read your minds! Two pictures appeared in my email this morning - a close-up and a long shot. Since you know what the quilt looks like I decided to post the close-up. Enjoy!

On a quilty front I've done absolutely nothing the last few days. Hopefully tomorrow night I can press scraps for Cher's and my cutting party on Saturday.

1. Yahoo has finally fixed their email problem
2. A responsive class this morning
3. A safe flight home for my assistant
4. A finished UFO to take to guild for the UFO challenge
5. Low fat muffins