Monday, May 16, 2022

the promised tops

As you know, I keep forgetting about the photos of my most recently completed tops - and we've had some great days to get them - but this morning I hauled them out, into the dew-laden, baby mosquito-filled yard and got them hung on the clothesline.  I fought the sun, just peeking over the trees (that are only half-leafed right now) and the gentle breeze that is always stronger in the back yard, but I got the photos done.  (I've done worse!)

First up is Easy Addition:

And second is Tumbleweeds:

I have places to be shortly, and I don't remember the sizes.  Obviously, one is larger than the other, since one is dragging on the ground, but otherwise, who knows?!

I promise when they're finished I'll have sizes for you.

If that ever happens.

I seem to be quilting little lately, but a big stash of fabric for hammocks and a call for catnip toys has sidetracked me.  And I'm still okay with it.

Last time I posted (I forgot last week - oops!), I was in the process of getting labels made for cat toys.  That took a while, but I got them done.

I counted what I had in the stack and found I had cut 93.  Holy cow!  I decided, since the labels were printed in columns of 20, I'd just make a few more and do five full columns (minus the one I used for the test).

I sewed and turned just one to make sure I had the placement correct, since the labels are directional (not that it really matters, but it does to me), and then I took off sewing.

I trimmed the corners and set them aside.  Last Monday was the sewing day for my guild.  So I decided that would be a good place to use catnip.  You know, no helpers.

I got 60 done there before everyone was packing up to go home.  It seems I can complete about 10 in an hour.

A few more hours (and fights) later, at home, I had the whole pile finished.  It took more catnip than I had stashed, so I had to buy another container.  Oh well.  Anything for the kitties!

Here they all are, piled in the bag the most recent stash of fabric came to me in.  Not quite full, but definitely a lot.

Yesterday, a few volunteers were at a "swap meet" in a vacant lot just up the road from me, so my volunteer asked if I could drop them off, as well as any hammocks.  So I did!  The gal I gave them to sniffed them - apparently she hadn't been warned they were coming - and I laughed.  Each one got about a tablespoon of dried catnip (I was using an old half tablespoon measuring spoon to get the catnip stuffing, catnip, stuffing, catnip, stuffing and sew it up!), so she got a noseful!

I also got to see a couple of my hammocks in action, as they had a couple of kitties there.  In crates, shaded, with food and litter and all that.  I never thought to take a photo, but the kitties seemed pretty chill about the whole situation.

(They were at the swap meet more to get the word out about their organization than to adopt kitties.)

I still have more than half the fabric, but I'll keep sewing.

And Toby will keep snoozervising.

(They have been allowed out into their enclosure a lot lately, with the weather being nicer, and he was crashed out here for hours.  He didn't even move when I got up to take a photo.  Usually he moves into a less cute pose when he hears me.  It's like he knows...)

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 2, 2022

not quilts, but sewing

I have not sewn a quilty stitch all week.

Well, batting was involved in a few projects, but nothing that could truly be called a quilt.

First was a not-very-exciting project of making reusable bags for produce.  I've been tossing this around in my head for a while and finally decided to go for it.  A quick trip for some netting and some type of string (I ended up with paracord) and I was ready to tackle a very annoying fabric.  It slips and slides and pins don't stay in.  And my machine turned a zig-zag stitch into a little pile of ick, but it held.  So I'm calling it good.

I ended up making four in this size (I used a bag from the store to get an approximate size, but after shopping today, four apples could have been joined by a dozen more, I think, and still all fit in these about 14x14" bags!) and two that are larger to accommodate corn.  Because it is almost that season!

The next hardest part was sealing the paracord ends.  I used matches for the first set, but then found a candle for the next four.  But you gotta hold really still and not breathe or you'll be chasing the flame.

I'm glad they're done.

I'm not volunteering to make any more.

Next up, my aunt had seen my needle pincushion over on Instagram and commented she would like one.  So I asked what size needles she used and, with her favorites known, I set out to the scraps and decided to whip up two.  One to share maybe?  Or one for the longarm and one for the little machine?

They are due to arrive in the mail today, so I think it's safe to post here.  (Hopefully she gets the mail before reading this!)  I also had to fill out the package with some "packing material" so I stopped by my local quilt shop on the way to the post office - they're just two blocks apart, so that is convenient.

With those done, I could tackle the actual hot pads for iron skillets for my sister-in-law.  I picked up some green bias tape when I was out getting the netting and cord (actually, I went to get the bias tape, so made it worth the trip getting the other stuff), and even having everything, I was still procrastinating.  These take more work than I would like, considering what they are, but I was determined.  And once I had (way too much) bias tape (math is apparently hard?), I needed to make them.

This fabric reminds me of Minecraft (something her boys have enjoyed playing in the past, though I'm not sure they do any more), and their kitchen has green accents, so my stash did good!

Oh, and the tutorial I used is here.  Just in case any of you want to tackle this.  I did get faster as I made them, but still.  I'm glad this is done.

With that all done, I was tidying up my sewing area and realized I still have a pile of hammocks waiting to be turned in.  My volunteer and I had a miss a few weeks back (kitties sometimes need rescuing and our plans go out the window, which is absolutely right), so I contacted her again.  We made a plan to meet, but then she sent out an email to those of use who are sewing, touching base, but also mentioning that having some catnip pillow toys at events to offer as a pay-what-you-like donation strategy, and my mind started churning.

I have a lot of conversation-type prints left from mask-making and quilt backs.  I mean, I've been quilting like 25 years, so it's just inevitable, right?  And there are leftovers from hammocks that, while not as cute, could also be used.

And then the wheels really started turning.

What if I could put a little ribbon tag in the side, with the rescue logo?  Somehow that makes it seem more professional to me, but it would also maybe help remind folks where that toy came from...and maybe even in a rare case remind them to donate again?

So an hour or so later on Pinterest and many links visited, I had a good idea of how this can be done and how much it might cost to have someone do it for me.  It was much cheaper to do it myself, particularly since I THOUGHT I had everything, so I dug in.  (The best tutorial I found is here and basically covers everything all the others did, but in one place - the video near the top is great.  Sorry, though, as the page loads slow and has a LOT of ads.)

First I had to make a file.  Then print and make sure it would work.  Then I realized I had no white ribbon.  I thought I did.


Good thing it was time for lunch, so I could stop for some ribbon while I was out...

Back home and I printed labels and used some leftover hammock fabric to make a couple.

I accidentally ironed the labels on opposite ways for my two trials, so they're in different spots, but I'm sure the kitties won't mind.

But at this point, the hubby put a stop to things.  He mentioned that I needed to make sure this was okay with the organization.  And while it kinda deflated my balloon, it was a good point.  So I contacted my volunteer, sending this photo, to ask if it was okay.

She loved it and has passed it on to the gal in charge for final approval.

And then she mentioned that she was on the way to my area to pick up a mama and babies that needed rescuing.  And could I meet her in 25 minutes instead of Tuesday to pick up the hammocks and bring me another stack of fabrics?

Sure, why not.

She handed me a large paper shopping bag filled with fabrics.  She had washed and folded them nicely for me, which was awesome.  I don't mind doing the washing, but it is nice to have that done already.  Since the bag was already trying to escape its duty (it was kinda beyond what it was designed for!), I set them all on a shelf in my sewing room.  A spot that has been dedicated to hammock fabric for a while anyways.  Hammock construction will begin anew soon.

And when she was done with the kittens and back home, she got word that the tags were approved (loved, even), so I got busy.

Actually, I had been cutting pieces while I waited, knowing I could skip the labels if they weren't wanted.  I was still going to make the pillow toys.

I have no idea how many I have here, but it's a lot.  And I'm sure you all can imagine, I could make a LOT more!

Next up, I need to get the labels transferred onto the ribbon.  That takes a bit of time when doing them in mass quantities, but it's all good.  No quilts are screaming at me and I find it better to have a project I'm excited about to get me into the sewing room and then I can force myself to make the blocks that I'm not excited about, using the fun stuff as a reward!

And really?  I have a lot of quilts.  Both finished and unfinished.  So starting another doesn't seem like a big deal.  Except maybe a baby quilt for a coworker's daughter.  But she isn't due for a while yet and I want to find out if they're going to know if they're having a boy or a girl before I make any big decisions.

But I have a lot going on today - lunch with some friends and then an eye doctor appointment later.  Work the following two days.  So I'm not going to make much progress in the near future, but I might as well go start.  Any progress is good, right?

Happy quilting (and sewing)!

Monday, April 25, 2022

all sorts of projects

It seems with the finish of cat hammocks, my quilty sew-jo has also taken a bit of a leave.  I'm still plugging away at blocks, but the strong desire I've felt in the past is less now.

Not to worry, I'm sure it will come back.

And I'm still making blocks.  Just not frantically.

(And I'm told there is more hammock fabric, I just have to coordinate a meet-up to get it and drop off the last of those I've finished.)

Four more for the Seeing Stars quilt blocks this week:

Some look more washed out than in real life, but with varying amounts of sun and rain (lots of both this past weekend!), it's hard to get a consistent color.  Eventually it will be a top and then you'll see...hopefully I'll have good light to capture the colors properly.

Speaking of photos of tops...still none for the last two completed.  I keep forgetting, but with spring finally springing around here, I should have more good days.

In addition to these blocks, I hemmed a pair of jeans!  I'd bought them a while ago, used but barely worn, and planned to hem them.  I did all the research on how to keep that nice bottom hem, but stalled out because I knew the machine I had wouldn't handle it.  Then I bought the "heavy duty machine" and still wasn't satisfied.  Well.  The latest used-but-new machine is a trooper and sewed through all 43,000 layers of denim at the side seams with hardly a complaint.  (Mostly just it struggled to get over the hump!)  No photos, but they look good and I'm pleased.

And then my brother-in-law found out.  I told him NO four times before I walked away.  I am NOT going to hem pants for his daughter.  She will be 10 in a few weeks and I have no doubt they will be too short in a few months and then I'll be in trouble for making them too short.  NO.  Let someone else figure that out.

But I walked away kinda mad.  We quilters are often accused of not saying no often enough.  And here I was, firmly stating my answer, and was being ignored.  We are told to say no and then it isn't an acceptable answer?  Ugh.

Oh well.  I won simply by walking away.  And I will not hem her pants.  I'm sorry, but no.

Okay, back to happier things.

I also made a pincushion for needles.  I have a lot of slightly used, but not dead, sewing machine needles running around.  You know, a jeans needle, or a heavier needle or whatever?  I went through what I have and decided I would make a pincushion for those more likely to be used randomly instead of trying to figure out a way to mark them as used.  Or read the teensy numbers stamped on the top.

Some of the needles can go back into the package they came from and I know they've been used.  Because, for example, I have ONE ball point needle of each size.  So as long as it goes back where it came from, I'm all good.

These are just some scraps and I'm pretty pleased with it.  I debated embroidering the numbers and ended up just being lazy and marking it with a permanent marker.  In the long run, though, it will probably do better because the embroidery floss could snag.

I also made a test skillet pot holder.

A few weeks ago, we were at my sister-in-law's house and she made cookies in little cast iron skillets.  But had no hot pads for the handles.  I've decided to fix that.  So I used the tutorial here, and did a test run.  These aren't as fast to make as I hoped, but I had everything I needed.  (I need more pre-made bias tape, but had this brown on hand to test.  Yes, I could make it, but that takes up a big chunk of fabric to get an 18" piece and I'm just not interested in making my scraps worse that way.)  I'll make the real ones from something cuter.

The kitties were not left out of my crafty shenanigans this week either!

When cruising through Pinterest, killing time, I saw these and decided to give it a go.  I used the tutorial found here, but I made the squares 7", thinking to myself that though the photos with a cat on it made it look large enough, my boys are big.

What you can't see here is that this is about half a cat size.  Mostly because they aren't using it.  Yet.  I hope.

The boys were instead outside.  We got the new top mesh on the cat run (over the years, they nose around, trying to find escape routes, and eventually it just needs replaced), so they were playing outside a lot.  It rained a ton yesterday, but the boys are out this morning. It's none too warm, but they begged and looked cute and I caved.  Maybe you can see it, maybe not, but Toby is FILTHY.

When I first looked out, he was half buried in the wet, decomposing leaves over there by Freddie (the black cat), but he came up the post to see me when I came back with a camera.  He is definitely living his best life.

Finn was up helping me as I was trying to sew this week.  Before the cat run repair and between outside time.

Clearly all that fresh air wore him out.  And the best place to nap is mom's wool pressing mat.  Always.

And with that, I have a few errands to run before lunchtime and then I can maybe try my hand at a few more crafty adventures...some new, some needing supplies to be procured in my shopping.  (I already braved the grocery store, but when done early enough, the majority of the idiots are still sleeping.)

Happy quilting!

Monday, April 18, 2022

three blocks and a machine update

I thought I would have tops to share this week.  I got busy and forgot, but maybe this morning, right?






So that just leaves me with the first three blocks from Seeing Stars, the third project I took to retreat.  The one that I got nowhere near because of all the curves in the second project.

That third one doesn't have a lot of contrast, but whatever.  It will be fine.

I'm paying a little extra attention to orientation, since some of these fabrics are directional.  It's going to go to a charity somewhere (haven't decided yet - and it may end up as two or more smaller quilts because these blocks are huge and I think there are 20? I can't remember...), but that doesn't mean I should do poor work, right?

In addition to these, I have FINALLY exhausted the pile of fabrics for cat hammocks.  Don't worry.  She has more for me.  (I knew you were worried.  Now you can rest easy.)


These blocks were sewn with the new-to-me machine.  Along with a bunch of hammocks.

Guess what?

Not a single skipped stitch.

And I didn't even have to switch to longarm thread for the heavier weight cat hammock fabrics to make that happen.  It barely even noticed the thicker seams most of the time.  (I mean, when we got to like 12 layers in topstitching over the loops, yeah, a little thunk, but who isn't gonna thunk a little at that?  I was having a little trouble fighting the pins in to hold them where they should be and that was a few layers before topstitching!)

I am so happy.

Still a little gun-shy and hoping it continues to sew well.  But the hubby is on the hunt for another machine just like it.  You know, a backup.  It may take a while.  That's okay.  He can do that sitting on the couch.  You know, where he is except when he is sleeping or at work.  (Can you hear the eyerolls?)

So that's it for the week!

I will have more hammock fabric probably next weekend, which means I should be able to sew more blocks than average this week.  We'll see how that goes...

No cat photos, but I can tell you that Toby is in the window watching the snow and Finn is trying to help me type and Freddie is watching the birds on their new feeder (the old one finally gave up the ghost in the wind storm we had earlier this week, so they got a new one in with the groceries this morning).  Sorry no photos, but maybe next week?

Happy quilting!