Monday, October 20, 2014

the dino quilts

I've been slacking again.  I say that a lot.  Maybe I should just stop slacking?

Anyways, I got motivated this weekend and started working on the dinosaur quilts for my nephews.

First I made some dino tracks:

Some of you may know this block by it's lesser known name: Bear's Paw.

I made 72 of them.  Because to go around the panel, I needed 6 on two sides and 7 on the other two.  That adds up to 36, right?  So double that for 2 quilts and I need 72.

They're all made from my scraps.  I used up a lot of browns.  I'm okay with that.  I like brown in my quilts, but I also like buying new fabric for quilts, which is facilitated by using up scraps!

So I finished them and went to figure out where to place everybody, using my design floor (with much, much help from Lexie), and realized I had too many.

I used to be good at math.

(I already have an idea for the extras, so no worries!)

Then, the hubby had an allergic reaction to something and took two Benadryl.  And then a 5-hour nap.  He felt better when he woke up, but I sewed the whole time.  If he'd been up, I probably wouldn't have gotten anything done.

Here's a peek of one corner of one quilt.  I still need to do a black crackled print border and some dino teeth (prairie points set into the binding like a flange), but the hardest part is done.  I think.  I hope!  (Prairie points are new for me.)

I would give you a better photo, but it's getting dark already and starting to rain besides.  I promise a photo of the finished projects!

The backs will be dino prints - two different ones so the boys can tell them apart.

I haven't made any more doll quilts. Or finished sewing the binding down on the quilt that will be donated to the local VA hospital.  But I'm at least in the sewing room, and I am doing stuff that needs to be done.  (If I could just keep myself from starting new stuff...)

A part of my motivation is that Bonnie Hunter announced her color scheme for her mystery quilt.  Every year I think maybe I'll do it.  And then I see how much fabric it takes (which really isn't unreasonable).  And then I think about how little scraps I have in each color family and think I probably don't have enough.  And I talk myself right out of it.  And then I see the gorgeous, wonderful, amazing quilts that come out of it and kick myself.

This year, if I get both of the dinosaur quilts finished.  Like bound and labelled finished.  And if I get the VA quilt finished (it's due in just a few weeks).  And if I have enough fabric in my stash to pull it off.  Then I can do it.  But only if all those conditions are met.  Wish me luck!  (Because I need another project like I need a hole in the head!)

Time to go make myself some dinner.  The hubby is on second shift, so I'm not cooking real meals much, but it's okay.  I end up eating less and getting more done of my own stuff when he's not around in the evenings!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, October 5, 2014

charity quilting part 2

So earlier I mentioned about the doll quilts.

The 8 I was trying to get done before Thursday are done!

Turned in Thursday.

They're all sorts of sizes - just whatever fabrics I had.  Hopefully the dolls will also vary in size so the quilts will all be useful.  

This project started out as a bag of scraps my sister-in-law gave me a LONG time ago to be donated to my guild for charity stuff.  I'd previously donated a bag of her scraps and, at the time, I thought they were well-received, so I took the second bag.

But, before I'd remembered the bag (sitting upstairs) to take to donate, there was a comment made about how they'd finally gotten though all the "little bits" someone had donated previously.

This did not please me.  I've gotten "kits" cut by a gal in the guild who chops big pieces up into smaller pieces to create these "kits" for donation quilts.  The purpose of her doing this is to get us to the sewing part faster, hoping we can make a few more donation quilts than before.  And to coordinate stuff and make hopefully prettier quilts.

While I understand that having bigger pieces to work with is desirable, little pieces count as well.  And I knew the bag my sister-in-law had donated contained little pieces.  So I didn't donate the bag.  I waited.  I'm not sure for what, but I did.

I still had the bag when the gal in my guild mentioned about the doll quilts for the local charity a few weeks back.  So I lugged the trash bag (I'm not kidding) that was more than half-full to my weekend sewing Saturday and dumped it on the table and started sorting.  (THAT should have been a photo!)  Piles of fabrics that went together, piles of like colors, bigger pieces that could be backs into a pile...

...and blocks.  And so I started sewing.  Some needed just another row, others needed some math, but by the time Sunday was over (I opted to go back for a second day), I had 10 tops.  Yes, 10.

And then I came home.  The following Thursday, a bag of smaller batting pieces, left over from trimming off larger charity quilts, was offered up for "whatever" (not necessarily charity work) at our meeting.  I took it.  PERFECT for doll quilts, even if I had to piece some in there.

That weekend (was it just last weekend?  really?), my hubby was out of town for work, so I decided to get working on these.  First I went looking for a holiday flannel to go on the back of the last one in the line of photos.  In the meantime, I found enough flannel to back ALL 10 of the quilts.  And I still hadn't found the holiday flannel.  (I did find it an use it...eventually.)  My stash of flannel is greatly depleted, but that's okay.  I don't really like using it for much more than backs anyways.

Not huge pieces, but with a little piecing, good enough for backs.  But no way were these going to go on the longarm.  The amount of extra fabric needed for backs is ridiculous when you have a quilt this small, so it was off to the store to buy my first ever can of spray baste!

By Saturday evening, I'd basted 8 and quilted 7.  By Sunday evening, I'd basted, quilted and made and sewn down binding on all 8.  I only had the hand-sewing portion of binding to go.  And I even dug through my bag of leftover binding and diminished that in the process, too!

The quilting isn't great, as my "walking" foot has a bit of a limp when the shaft holding the foot on hangs up on a thick seam, but since these are likely to be used and abused, they don't need to be showpieces.

There is still a LOT of fabric in the bag, but it's sorted now and does look smaller, but I'm not sure if that's just my wishful thinking or not.  I'm sure there will be other rounds of projects to come from this, but I'm not sure if it will be this year.  I still have two that are a little larger (and backing I think that is large enough to use on the longarm) to finish, but they'll go to the local homeless and domestic abuse shelter, so there's a less demanding deadline for those.

And though I didn't donate the fabric, I AM using it for charity quilts - just a little different route and I'm not complaining about the little bits.  For projects like those above, they were often just what I needed!

But this weekend, I ended up going to a quilt show I hadn't planned on going to.  A last-minute decision on a rainy Saturday, and I found a dinosaur panel and now I'm sidetracked.  Though they had only kits for the quilt they'd made for the show, I made a little side trip on the way home to get two panels and some fabric for backing two quilts for two nephews for Christmas.  The link above also shows the quilt they'd put together for the booth and I decided I'd do something simpler with the panels.  And then my brain started working...I'm not sure if my idea is simpler, but I like it better.  I'll share it soon, but it includes "dinosaur teeth" and "dinosaur tracks"...

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

charity quilts part 1

I haven't been blogging much, but I HAVE been quilting!

After being shamed publicly about the rack of quilt tops hanging near my longarm by the gal who fed our cats while we were on vacation this summer (she didn't really shame me, but she gets all feisty when I say that, so I'm saying it!), I decided it was time to get something done.

I have backs for a lot of these.  I've bought longarm thread to go with these.  Why are they just sitting there?  (Because I'm still a tad afraid of my longarm...shhhhhh!)

(Actually I'm afraid of breaking my longarm and not being able to figure out how to fix it.  Not a good reason to not use it, I know.)

So I started at the "oldest" end and tried to do one a weekend.

I started with this froggy quilt I made using scraps from lounge pants I made for myself years ago.

I struggled with how to quilt it and then one morning the week leading up to my plan to quilt it, I realized I could do lily pads with little hops between them to mimic a frog jumping!  With a little doodling to practice, I was off and running.  It didn't take much time at all, but since it's a charity quilt, I wasn't fussing too much if it didn't look perfect.  (And anyone who knows me, knows that fussing for perfect rarely happens anyways...)

The following weekend, I was feeling pretty good, so I loaded this one.  Made from scraps from a baby quilt I made for a friend a few years back.

This one I did some not-so-hot doodley butterflies.  There might be one with just three wings in there, but I'm not saying...  But it was good practice (to learn what motifs I am NOT good at) and it's done.

These were donated in the name of my quilt guild to the local homeless and domestic abuse shelter.  They're baby sized (though perhaps a little generous in the opinion of some) and I hope they'll keep some unfortunate little ones warm this winter.

After that, there were two twin-ish sized tops hanging.  I've quilted both and bound one, but have not yet taken photos.  The first included the saga of the broken button and the second has less quilting due to the fear of another broken button...  Once I get the second bound, I will get photos and share.  These are destined for the local VA hospital and we donate around Veteran's Day, so I'd better get going.

Then there are a whole lineup of doll-sized quilts (varying in size) made from scraps.  I worked both days of my guild's sewing weekend on these and am trying to have all 8 of them finished-finished by our guild meeting Thursday night.  With just two left to hand-sew binding, I think I'll make it (if I ever stop typing!).   These will be donated to a local group that gives dolls with 3 outfits and a quilt to local kids.  Though I didn't know it when I asked, there is an older gal who had previously made a lot of quilts, but with her advanced age, has slowed down.  I hope these 8 (and perhaps more!) will help ease her burden.  I promise photos of those as well, once they're all done.

The projects for me have taken a back seat to these lately, but that's okay.  Sometimes getting things done and knowing it goes to a good cause is more important than my stuff.  Okay, probably more often than most of us want it to be.

I still have five quilts on the rack.  Some are for me, some are for others, but I'll share as they're finished.  (They're all tops you've seen, and though some are old, none are as old as the two you see above.)  But five is a vast improvement over what was there!

Time to go sew those last two bindings!

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

sewing along

Last weekend I went to the AQS show in Grand Rapids.  I had high hopes I'd come home with lots of inspiration and even a new project.


While I can appreciate the talent and time involved in the "quilt it to death" method of quilting, I was disappointed at how many quilts hanging there had been quilted to death.  I mean 1/16th of an inch between lines of quilting quilting to death.

But I guess if you're making a quilt to WIN and not to keep someone warm and wrap them in love, go ahead and quilt it to death.  I'm just hoping the cycle will come back around and quilts that aren't stiffened by the amount of thread put into them will be in fashion again someday.

Until then, I guess I'm just going to be old fashioned.

There was, however, an amazing display of about 24 quilts made by a lady from Michigan.  Almost all hand-pieced, all hand-quilted.  And every single one was amazing.  She won a lot of awards for them in the 80's and I can see exactly why.  Sadly, she's no longer living, otherwise I would have liked to meet her.  

And then there were the vendors.  It seems there were far fewer there this year and a lot of them were selling things that were not quilt-related.  And the quilty vendors that were there were disappointing, too.  Some were good, but I found absolutely nothing I couldn't live without.  Except some longarm thread.  When the price drops if you buy 3 or more spools and you don't have to pay shipping, that's a good deal!  So I bought army green, grey and orange, all with projects in mind to use them to finish.

Maybe I just had too high of expectations this year.  Or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.  But I heard others making similar comments about the vendors.  The quilts were beautiful, but nothing that truly inspired me to go home and make something either.

But...I have managed to keep going quilting at home.  A little at a time, but quilting.

Sunday I quilted a baby quilt for charity.  (Trying to clear off that rack of quilts...)  Once I get the binding finished, I'll share that.

And I turned this stack:

into this:

You can kind of see the blocks, but here's a (little blurry) photo of the top of that stack for a better idea:

(funny how the colors are so different depending on the angle of the camera!)

There are 8 greys and 8 purples, 12 blocks for each color.
192 blocks.  Simple blocks.  But done.

Next I will have to find a chunk of time to lay them all out and figure out what looks good where and then sew them together.  I have learned from my Christmas Pickle mistake and will not begin this task at 3pm or later!

Now that these are at this stage, I will continue cutting pieces for my science geek quilt.  That will be another that once all the pieces are cut will take a chunk of time to lay out and then sew together before being picked up again.  Why do I do this to myself?

Tomorrow at my guild we have a trunk show from a member who was voted Quilter of the Year at another guild she belongs to.  As part of this award, she'll have a booth at that guild's show this fall to display her work.  The trunk show is a preview of that and I'm very excited to see what she has to share.  She does a lot of modern work, but I'm curious to see what her earlier quilts are like since I think she's been quilting longer than the modern movement has been going on.

Happy quilting,