Tuesday, July 5, 2016

leftovers and no thread

What I planned to share today (or yesterday) is not what I will be sharing...but I'll tell you the story and the why...

A few years ago you may remember me sharing my purchase of a purple and grey kit...  (Okay, okay, it was 2013.)  And then I didn't really share much more...perhaps this blurry gem...

...and then a while later, I shared with my guild via facebook this poorly lit gem...

...with the comment that it was going to be a lap quilt, then I decided to keep sewing and make it fit my bed, but instead it didn't fit in my living room (which I really didn't think was that small!)...

I have been in love with this quilt since the moment I saw it.  And I'm over the moon excited it's now big enough (with a $36 purchase of additional fabric) to fit my queen size bed and replace the current quilt that, after 21 years of use, is literally falling apart.

It took a while to get it together.  I had to be in the right mood.  It's Cherrywood fabric.  Pricey.  And I wanted to do this when I WANTED to do it.  It's an easy pattern, but I want to climb into bed every night and snuggle under something I love - not resent for all the work I HAD to put into it.

So for a while it sat as pieces.  Then as blocks.  Then as a top.  Then as a top I knew needed borders.  Then as a top waiting for me to not be afraid to cut up the extra fabric I bought for borders.  Somewhere in there as a top waiting for the exact perfect right back.  While the top had no borders, it was also a quilt that I wasn't sure how to quilt.

Finally, last week it all came together.  I knew how to quilt it.  I had the back.  I had the border fabric.  I took a deep breath and cut into the fabric.  I did it right!  I even made the binding while I was making borders.  I sewed the borders on.  I loaded the longarm.

I quilted for 4 hours.  5 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
I went to bed.
I quilted 1.5 hours.  2 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
I went to celebrate the 4th with family.
I quilted 2 hours.  3 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
I rewound 3 bobbins and saw I was getting low on longarm thread.  A 3,280 yard spool - new 10 bobbins ago.  I'll be okay, I thought.
I quilted 1 hour.  1.5 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
One more pass!  6 more blocks/motifs!
My machine threw a fit.
I looked up and over.


Yes.  Empty.

I've never done that before.  Not on my longarm.  I quilted more than 3000 yards of thread into a single quilt!  And I'm not done!

More is on order.  2-5 business days.

But I really, really, really, really, really wanted to show you the quilt finished.  Well, quilted at least.  But I'm not going to.  Because it's not finished.  I LOVE it.  LOVE.

(If I hadn't wound that third bobbin, I might have made it.  Probably not...)

So instead I will share with you what I've nearly finished using the "lost" triangles from the heart blocks!

I had a plan in my head to use these as pinwheels - the big mixed with the little - but with 7 colors and pinwheels, how does one properly set that?  I thought and thought and then one night in bed (why do my best ideas come to me when I'm supposed to be sleeping?), I thought "A HEART!" and it all came together quickly.  Well sort of...

If you look close, you can see how I fixed some rookie mistakes.  Somehow I forgot how to work seam allowances, so my heart is 1/2" too big for the pinwheels.  And the teeny pinwheels (each HSQ unit measured 1.25" unfinished) aren't framed exactly even...you'd think I'd been quilting 20 days, not 20 years with the mistakes I kept making.  But I was determined this was NOT adding to the UFO pile.  No more!  The pile cries "UNCLE!"

And here it is quilted (with the binding pinned down - I should be sewing that right now):

I love this one, too.  I hope this makes some young girl happy to wrap her dolly in it.

And with that, I am off to wait for the mailman to deliver my much-awaited (already) smoke-colored thread!  Tomorrow?  (Ha ha ha, I ordered it Monday!)

Happy quilting,

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Jade's quilt (super secret project #1 revealed)

A little over a month ago, my oldest niece from my side of the family graduated high school.

My mom, being a quilter, I assumed would be making her a quilt to commemorate the occasion.


So the week before her Thursday graduation (or was graduation Saturday and her last day of school Thursday?), I decided she should probably get a quilt.  You know, just a few days out, no biggie.

I offered to my mom to do it together, but she had other plans.

Off to the store!  (Oh the horror!)

Last I knew, Jade liked Dr. Who, so this seems like a fun way to go.

I decided on a disappearing 9-patch simply for the quickness of it.

Yeah, right, quick.  *eyeroll*

I worked my tail off that first week and though I knew I probably wasn't going to attend graduation itself, I wanted something to present to her soon after.

Then I found out they were, after all, going to have an open house.

That was yesterday.
(The open house.  Not the finding out about it.)

So I slacked off a bit.  Finished Sarah's quilt and sent it along.  Procrastinated a bit...

And finished sewing the binding on and labelled it at 9:30 yesterday morning.

Plenty of time for a 1pm celebration an hour from home!

This is an awful photo, but when you've pushed your timeline to the max and your clothesline only faces the one direction and it's sunny out...

You can see there's a pink stripe on the back, but you get the idea.  It's a disappearing 9-patch!

Here's the back (and you can see the quilting)

(facing the other direction on the clothesline so the sun wasn't shining through, of course...)

(This is the last quilt I quilted with the stitch regulator on.  Free-motion, though.)

She studied French all four years of high school and what's more French than the Eiffel tower?

The only thing I really missed was her love of music, but, well...

I think she was surprised, though she probably shouldn't have been.  (Perhaps the surprise was that this came from me and not her grandma?)  I think she liked it, too.

She plans to use it on her bed (it's about 80x80" because I have no control, er, math skills...well...both) and I did make a matching pillowcase.  (Because, really, what else am I going to do with almost a yard of Dr. Who fabric?)

I also remembered to take some photos of the heart blocks.  Those will be donated this coming Thursday, so I had a bit of time, but while the sun is shining (rain is on the way today), and I should be getting ready for a party, that seems like a logical time to take photos, right?

Time to get sewing.  (or perhaps grocery shopping before the hordes of people get there and I have to carry stuff inside in the rain...)

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Prudence approves!

...need I say more?

(my friend was truly surprised and loved it!)

My next project should be working on the top secret quilt.  It's nearly done and that's a good thing - it needs to be done soon.  (I should be working on it right now, but the hubby is at a t-ball game and I have a quiet house to myself, so I'm not...)

What has me sidetracked are heart blocks.  A young gal and her mom joined our guild last week.  At only their second meeting, the daughter brought to us a project.  Heart blocks (and maybe even quilts) for the victims of the Orlando night club shooting.  It seems the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild is coordinating this effort, but putting the word out to anyone interested in helping.  We told our gal to be careful what you ask for (remember the Girl Scout project and how that got away from us?), but I'm in.

...shopping the stash...

...sewing the rainbow...

The blocks are done (no photo - oops! - maybe next post) and I even have plans for the "lost" corners I chopped off.  They've been pressed and squared up and will be sewn soon.  I'm hoping that, in addition to the 14 blocks I've made for this project, I can get at least one (maybe two!) doll quilts out of the leftovers.  (The doll quilts will be donated to the local fire department to hand out at Christmas with dolls.)  My goal is to have these done by next Thursday!  Go, Katie, go!

The blocks are simple and quick and probably a good motivator for me considering my lack of sewing lately.  (I'm trying - I really am...I want to longarm a quilt for my bed this weekend, but have to get over being scared of it...again...)

And last, I didn't share the fabrics I bought for my guild's paint chip challenge, but these were purchased on my road trip to the family reunion at an awesome shop in Hannibal, Missouri.  I think I can share these...I've chosen a pattern, but that is top secret.  It's due in October, so I'll be sharing after then.  Assuming I choose all the right naughty words to say to the project when it doesn't go the way I want it to...  :)

Time to go work on super secret project #1 - the one with the shorter deadline!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, June 12, 2016

turn off your stitch regulator (and i met Angela Walters)

...let's start at the beginning...

Part 1:  I was 19.  A sophomore in college.  My high school friend, Sarah, called me.  "Sit down" she said.  I sat.  She was pregnant.  Long story short, this was not good news, but she was keeping the baby.  I'm sure she was terrified.  I just wanted to give her a hug.

My mom had been quilting a few years by then, so I decided that we were going to make my friend a quilt.  To tell her that I supported her decision.  This was my first.  This is where this all started.

We made a snail's trail quilt.  Not a two-color one.  But an approximately 100-color one.  (okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit...)  My mom sewed, I unsewed and pressed and matched things up wrong on the design floor that I handed to her and she sewed wrong so I unsewed them again.  It was done before Kaelyn was born.  (whew!)

Our lives led us in different directions and we've lost touch more than once.  She married the baby's daddy and had two more kids with him.  Those kids got quilts, too.  Easier quilts.  She divorced, stood in as mistress of ceremonies at my wedding and then remarried a few years later.

But you know what?  Sarah herself never got a quilt.

Part 2:  Ever since my grandmother passed away, my mom and her siblings have hosted family reunions.  Without parents to host holiday stuff, the kids weren't getting together regularly, so each year a different sibling hosts.  This year it was my Uncle Mike's turn.  Uncle Mike lives in Kansas City, Missouri.  He planned the reunion for last weekend.

My mom has two living sisters.  Both are quilters (it's all my mom's fault), both have longarms.  Aunt Laura looked at a map and went "hey, Angela Walters has her studio and store really near there!" so she contacted her and scheduled us a longarm class.  With Angela Walters.  Yes, that happened.

Then the hubby's work said NOPE you can't have that time off.  So I asked a friend who longarms to do the road trip and class and reunion with me.  She said yes!

We drove to Kansas City.  That's the furthest I've ever driven (I've been further, but as a passenger only), but we had a blast.  We stopped at a welcome center in Hanibal, Missouri (home of Mark Twain and an awesome quilt shop - The Hickory Stick) and the super super super nice folks there told us about a quilt trail.  Also known as a shop hop...across highway 36.  Well...that's how you get to the Missouri Star Quilt Company, so we're going that way anyways!

So the trip took a bit longer than expected (no biggie, we had time) and we saw some very back roads (thanks GPS!) and met some very, very friendly shop owners and found a few really awesome shops.  We also did make it to the Missouri Star Quilt Company - go if you have the chance - but it was overload for my brain!  (But, hey, I've been there!)

Anyways, we made it to the reunion safely.

Saturday morning we headed out for what should have been a 40-minute drive for our class.  Well...GPS did it again...we saw parts of Missouri I'm not sure the locals know about, but with 4 others in the car (and at least two phones turned on to guide us), we made it.  We laughed a lot and were only about 10 minutes late.

Angela is awesome.

She has machines set up for classes to use (duh), and she encouraged us to keep the stitch regulator off just to see.  I was scared, but what good is a class if you don't stretch yourself?  Well...it's not so hard after all!  Go turn yours off if you have it on.  You'll be amazed.  For real.  You can do it.  You'll be better than you think.  I promise.

But I think what got me the most was seeing her work.  Up close, in person and in the books I purchased where motifs are highlighted.  She's not perfect.  She doesn't claim to be.  And it made me realize that I don't have to be perfect either.  Roll with what happens.  Incorporate the mistakes into the design.  It's all okay!

Did I mention Angela is awesome?  We laughed a lot (of course, that happens a lot wherever I go...I threatened to ride a bolt of fabric down some fairly steep stairs at the MO Star because we didn't enjoy hoofing it UP the stairs...they laughed and said they wanted photos if I did it!...they didn't mention the elevator, though...we found that ourselves...hmmm...) and had a ton of fun.  All of us.

Part 3:  This Friday, after a crazy 4-day week (we drove back home Monday), I actually left work ON TIME!  And having gone in at 6am, that meant 2:30!  I was out of work at 2:30 on a Friday!  It was a good day, too, so I was ready for adventure when I arrived home.

The hubby beat me home (his normal shift gets him home around 2:30) and was glued to the television.  Watching the pre-show for the Mohammed Ali memorial.  He wouldn't even grunt at me.  I know this was a big thing, but we have a DVR and it's a BEAUTIFUL FRIDAY!

So while washing dishes and trying to be productive while waiting for the hubby to take me to the promised dinner at a new taco joint (which was delicious, by the way), this quilt started screaming at me from it's hiding spot in the closet.

I don't know when I bought the kit from JoAnn's, but it's called "Simply Sweet".  I loved it, bought it, sewed it and then went "Now what?"  It's been hiding out for probably 5 or more years now.

At 4pm on Friday I knew.  This quilt was for Sarah.

And I guess the hubby's delay was for a reason - I had to realize this quilt needed to be finished (the photo above is the top), measure it and look it over so while we were in a bigger city, I could pick up backing and batting.  It's about 80"x90".

Saturday morning I was up at 7am, piecing the back (bleh - I think that's my least favorite part) and getting started.  By lunchtime I had it half quilted.  By bedtime, I had it all quilted and the machine part of binding sewn on.  I even went to a 4-hour dance recital in there (the nieces did a great job!)...

Today I hand-sewed down the binding.  It just needs a label.

Sarah's birthday is tomorrow.  This is not intended as a birthday present.  It's the hug I never gave her all those years ago.

the finished top
yes, it's sideways - it's still too long for my clothesline
(click on it to see the quilting!)

some of the quilting that's harder to see in the overall shot

and the back...because a quilt isn't complete from me without a crazy back!
(the flowers are just a bit bigger than my fist)

Part 4:  This whole thing was quilted with NO stitch regulator.  The longest stitch is probably less than 1/4" long and those were the straight stretches where things were easy and I forgot to stay steady.  (They didn't last long - I caught myself.)  My inner points are pointy and the stitches coming out of them are more even than they ever will be with a stitch regulator that's trying to keep up with me stopping and starting.  I relaxed.  I wasn't trying to baby the stitch regulator so it COULD keep up with me.  I was in control of the steadiness and it was easier.  I really did relax.  I now understand how a person could quilt something to death.  You just want to keep going!

I will never (probably) turn my stitch regulator back on.  I don't need to.  I'm good enough without it.  So are you!  And I'm 100% confident saying this to ALL of you.  I tried a machine I was completely unfamiliar with in a city hundreds of miles from home under the watchful eye of a world-famous longarmer and did just fine.  You all know your machines.  If I can do this successfully in such an unfamiliar place, you can do it at home with your machine!  Try it.  Maybe you'll hate it, but I bet you won't.  And at least you can say you've tried it.

Happy quilting!

PS Angela is awesome!