Saturday, January 31, 2015

the tops

I braved the cold this afternoon and tried to get photos of the tops I finished weekend before last.  The local weather station says it's 9mph winds.  That doesn't seem like much, but when you hang a quilt in that...

But we're due for a lot of snow (on the edge of the 5-8" and 8-12" bands, but I'll believe it when I see it!) and today is rather sunny, so it seemed time to brave the cold.

I only had to wait a minute or so to get the first shot of the baby quilt:

I love how this turned out.  I almost feel like it needs a border, but if I add one, the single-width backing will have to be added onto and I'd rather not.  A 42" square baby quilt seems adequate.

And then I quickly moved onto the big sister quilt, having hung them both while the wind was blowing, hoping for enough stillness to get them both done.

My camera has a rechargeable battery, but it doesn't last long (probably need a new one), so after standing in the wind, patiently waiting, hands getting colder and colder, it was finally time to give up on a still shot and go with an "action shot":

I got most of them in there!  And I promise a shot of the finished quilt laying flat.

I should have quilted them last weekend, but didn't.  I should probably be working on them today, but I'm not.  Like I said in my last post, plenty of time yet for procrastinating.

I did start on my AQS guild challenge quilt Sunday...sneak peak...

...that's a lot of pins!

I can't share much of this quilt, as AQS rules state that it can't have been displayed (or whatever their lingo is) anywhere prior to their show, assuming it gets accepted, so until we either get rejected (July, I think) or it's in the show (October), you'll only be seeing sneak peeks.  I'd love to share, but don't want to get disqualified!

We didn't have guild meeting last week due to weather concerns.  While I drove home from work on roads that seemed good, other members in more remote areas that couldn't get out of their own driveways, so the remaining road conditions weren't even a consideration.  And with wet roads (we'd had freezing rain and snow earlier in the day) and dropping temps, it just seemed the best idea to cancel.  I was really disappointed to not exchange row boxes (and have a new project to work on this weekend), but I know the safety of our members is more important than me having a new project, so I can wait.

Tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday, a day my husband is claiming to be his favorite day of the year, and I will probably be banned from the room where he's watching the game, so maybe I'll have something more to share soon?!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, January 25, 2015

row-by-row - a new project

At my guild meeting week before last, a group project was announced - a Row-by-Row quilt.  I've participated in one of these in the past (a long time ago) and had a lot of fun, and I'm always up for a new project (particularly one that isn't terribly demanding), so count me IN!

The following weekend was our guild's sewing weekend and I chatted with a few friends about my ideas.  One in particular was less than appropriate, but had a few friends giggling.  Unfortunately, it would probably have left others terribly offended, so it was quickly abandoned.  I left still scratching my head over what I would do, but determined to have an idea soon because I had only two weeks to complete my row before "the box" needed to be passed.  (We lost a week due to weather cancellation...)

Sunday evening, ideas were still churning and by Monday afternoon, I'd figured it out.  Modern-wonky blocks.  In solid colors.  I've done a little with wonky, and fear a little that this will over-challenge some members, but I hope most of those who participate and get my "box" will learn something...and isn't that the point?  I just hope they don't hate me by the time it's over - at least not for this!

Monday I purchased fabrics at my LQS.  Solids there were CHEAPER than JoAnn's.  Better quality AND she's got everything in the store 30% off through the end of the month to make room for new inventory.  (I helped even more by purchasing the last of a bolt!)

Lime green and turquoise with white.  Future rows can add colors, but solid colors.

Monday evening, since the hubby was down with a stomach bug, I had freedom to sew.  So Pinterest and I worked together and found me a tutorial for making a wonky churn dash...

This went okay.  Just okay.  But the pattern didn't specify how big the block was to end up.  And I kinda need a uniform size.  And it's 5 5/8" unfinished.  Not exactly a "normal" size.


A little more searching and reading in the next few days turned up another tutorial (google "wonky block tutorial" and you'll find a lot of options) that was more fussy, but also told me what size the block ended up - 6" finished.

I tried just one to be sure...

Yes, this looks more like the right size.  Though I do like the overly wonkiness of the first a little better, compromises need to be made.

On to mass-production...sort of...

These little buggers are a bit wasteful, but I bought a lot of fabric and I'm learning, so it's all good.  (And there's a guy who recycles our fabric scraps in making paper, so I'll just say I'm helping an environmental cause, okay?)

Blue is done.  On to green...

And there's my row.  They look a little more uniform than I hoped, but they're definitely wonky and that's more important.

Now to make a label...

Lemonade from a lemon for this - this is my first block repurposed.  I plan to have the other 5 quilters who make a row for me add their info on the bottom half.

I also purchased a little journal to include that has the important info about what I want as well as a few entries regarding my trials to complete my row.  I even included a few websites for inspiration and instruction because I'm pretty sure wonky blocks are not in the repertoire of most quilters!  At least not intentionally wonky blocks...

And as I was editing these photos, I was looking for photos of what I finished at my sewing weekend last weekend and realized I only took a photo of one quilt top and it's on my phone.  That will take about 3 days for me to get it successfully off there, so I'll just have to wait for a sunny day (this is not one of those, unfortunately) and take photos outside.  

So what did I accomplish?  The hedgehog quilt is a top.  AND the baby quilt that started it all is also a top!  (That quilt was much simpler and took only about 8 hours to complete - but when you can sit in a room with friends and a sewing machine for most of two whole days, it doesn't seem to take long at all.)

I should have been quilting those this weekend, but this row and a few other obligations and whatnots kept me from having enough time.  Maybe next weekend, but she's not due till March, so I've got plenty of time to procrastinate!

Happy quilting!

PS  I won't see my row-by-row stuff again until the end of June (or was it July?), and I'm not sure if it would be okay to share the rows I complete here just in case I spill the beans.  So I guess once it's all over, I'll post about them all.  (But know I'll be itching to share as I complete them!)

Sunday, January 11, 2015


After being so sick before the holidays, I had hopes that I was DONE for the year.

Tuesday my throat was scratchy.  Take a bunch of Airborne.  Wednesday my head is stuffy.  Oh no.  This is exactly how the last illness started.  I do NOT want that again.  Take more Airborne.  Thursday, still just a stuffy head, no worse than Wednesday, except for the crackling left eardrum.  Take more Airborne.  Friday the head is a little less stuffy and eardrum okay.  Take more Airborne.  Saturday even less stuffy.  Even nose-breathing some.  Take more Airborne.  Sunday even better.  Nose breathing most of the time now.  But really?  And though my hubby says the Airborne effect is all in my head, I'm going to believe it helped keep this from turning into something worse.

So that slowed me down some.  Partly because I was sitting on my couch, wrapped in quilts (did I mention it was single-digit temperatures with double-digit below zero temp wind-chills most of last week? - my poor furnace!), worried I was going to get sicker.  I know that didn't help anything, but after that last round...

But since I had already cut parts for the remaining 11 hedgehogs, I was ready to roll when I started nose-breathing again.

Saturday I decided to get down to business.  The hubby was watching football, so I had the day to myself...mostly...  By this point I knew the pattern well enough that mass-production, coupled with having the pieces already cut, was possible.  So I sewed and sewed and sewed and sewed.  These little gals seem to take forever to get parts together and then all of a sudden - BAM - you've got a hedgehog.  Well, multiply that by 11 and you see how my day went!

I did not rip a single seam in producing the last 11 of these gals.  There was one mis-cut that was 1/4" too long, so I'm considering myself really lucky.

They will still need to be sashed and bordered, but my quilt guild sewing weekend is next weekend and I plan to figure out the final layout (minus cat-help) and get that taken care of there.  With all that goes on there, it's easier to have mindless sewing to do and then I can chat.

So now it's on to the next project.  The baby quilt!  I opted to work on the big sister quilt first, knowing it was more complicated and more likely to end up in the UFO pile and using the need to get the baby quilt made also as motivation to get the hedgehogs done.  I really want to give both, and this strategy worked.  (But the hedgehogs being so darn cute didn't hurt any!)

I love these colors together.  Originally, I wanted to do just red and white, but couldn't find a quilt I really fell in love with that screamed at me it was the quilt to make for my friend.  So I expanded to add aqua because I love the colors together.  And then I found Chasing Windmills and knew what I was going to make!

The fabric at the bottom of the photo will be the back of the quilt.  I had decided on a different blue in the store, but when I found the back fabric, I went back and got the polka dot fabric instead.  I liked it better anyways...but you all probably know by now I have a dot problem.

The hubby is sleeping again, so maybe I'll go cut pieces?

Lastly, lots of folks are doing year-end roundups of all the quilts and projects they've finished this year, but I have a different one. I've seen others do it and thought it would be fun.  I've set a basket in my sewing room and whenever I finish a spool of thread, I throw the empty in there.

13 spools!  That large one started out on my longarm, but I didn't like it much, so it ended up on my little machine.  That was a LOT of off-white thread to sew through.  Some of them I sewed every stitch of thread in 2014, some I sewed about 10 feet and emptied, but I technically finished in 2014, so into the basket it went.  What a lot of thread!  I didn't think I sewed that much, but I guess I did!

Now what do I do with them?  Usually, I throw them out as I empty them and feel no shame, but having them all there together it feels like I should do something crafty with them...  And I want to empty my basket so I can start again in 2015!

(And those fabrics in the background are the start of the 2015 AQS Ultimate Guild Challenge quilt I plan to have done in March!)

I still have the one 2014 finish to share that was a Christmas gift...I promise to share that soon...  I have photos, but this post is getting long.

Happy quilting,

Monday, January 5, 2015

first finish of 2015 - guild block challenge

One last day of vacation for me today!  We were allowed two floating holidays in addition to two actual holidays around Christmas, and I opted to take mine late.  It's been a nice, long, quilty weekend for me, so we won't talk about what's going to happen tomorrow morning at 6am, okay?

Last July, while I was on vacation, my quilt guild had their annual summer picnic.  At the picnic, our president announced a challenge.  She had three bags.  One contained crayons, one contained nouns written on paper and a third contained numbers written on papers.  If you wished to participate, you drew one from each bag and were to create a 20-inch quilt block using what you drew.  Other colors and whatnot are okay to add, but what you drew must be on there.  I wasn't there, but they kindly drew for me:

Sepia (brown)


Then one morning, in the shower, where my best ideas always seem to hit, I got it.  Why not create in the negative?  So black is white and white is black.  And sepia is the old-timey photo color anyways, so that worked in nicely.

I sketched a little pattern with notes and then put it away.  Still unsure of myself and my idea.

Thursday, I decided I needed to go for it.  These are due the middle of the month and will be displayed in the local library for the month leading up to our quilt show - a promotion of sorts - and patrons will be asked to vote on their favorite.  While I'm not worried about winning, I do want to put up a good showing to get the community interested in these crazy women who sit around in a circle and complain about their husbands all the time - or so the stereotype goes.

So I went and bought fabric.  I was going to dye my own and get a lot of shades, but, well, that was in August...

Saturday I taped papers together to get the right size square and drafted my idea larger, then traced onto Wonder Under (excuses, excuses), though the "photos" are sewn together by machine, as is the gentle curve between water and sand.  I wish I'd bought more than 1/4 yard of most colors (and less of my sepia), but I made it work.

By the time I went to bed Saturday night, it was done!

Don't get too picky, as some of the reversals got the better of me, but you get the idea.  And those suns are definitely brown.  (And the tumbleweed, once the seam allowance is taken out, will not look like it's a hover-weed.)

When I shared this with guild members on facebook (private group), I got a little harassing about being a super quilter and how I got this done in two days.  After pointing out that we've had our info for more than 5 months and that I work full-time, they left me alone.  

This was my original idea, but Saturday morning, for about an hour or so, I thought about using the Aztec creation myth where five "suns" (or gods) took turns creating the world, the fifth being the world we know today.  Each sun had a persona and there was a neat graphic I found all over the internet that I thought about attempting to recreate.  Then I realized how hard that was going to be and went back to my original idea.  But it's always good to know you have options!

But that's not all I've done this long weekend!  The hedgehogs?

14 down...

...11 to go!

I've used only pinks that I had already.  I dug through all sorts of places, even my bin of binding leftovers, as I can get all the pieces I need out of a binding-width strip (something the pattern doesn't mention and I didn't think about until after I'd made a few) and generally tried to get as much variety as I could.  No two will be the same.

I expect this pre-cutting will decrease my sewing time even more...I love them, but 25 is a lot when you consider all the pieces involved!  (And I'm getting an itch to start something new...uh oh!)

I also bought a back for this quilt while getting my browns.  (I had to do something pretty because who likes to buy four shades of brown?  Solid brown?)

I was hoping for something with hedgehogs, but with 400 owl prints, there was no room for any other sorts of animals except a few fox, cat and dog prints.  Probably next year there will be 400 hedgehog prints when I'm looking for koala bears...

And finally, I purchased fabric (again, was going to dye, but decided to just roll with pre-colored) for the AQS Ultimate Guild Challenge my guild is attempting again this year.  Unlike last year where I decided 2 weeks out to do it, I'm planning a bit more ahead this year.  I already have a plan for my letter "X" (because if I got brown in the other challenge, why would I get an easy letter?) and it should be relatively simple to construct.  But I plan to quilt the bejeezus out of it, so that scares me a little!  Soon...

Happy quilting,