Monday, June 5, 2023

more longarming!

Last week I left you with the news that the hubby had a coworker retiring and I wanted to give her a quilt.  We had settled on a quilt, but it still needed to be quilted.

I decided I would take a break from the outside work on Friday and quilt it!

I knew about what I wanted to do in the "flowers" but the background had me stumped.  At first I thought about just straight lines (no rulers, but if they're not diagonal, I can do pretty well without it), but worried that would be too plain.  Once I loaded the quilt and continued to look at it, I decided it needed something to offset the swoopiness of the flowers and the quilting I intended to put there.  Also, being curved pieces, there was a little wonk in there (not a lot, but some), and all the quilting involved in those straight lines would forgive a lot.

I marked the corners with chalk and took a photo so I'd remember what I did.

And then I quilted the whole thing without taking any photos!  It took a while.

This is after it was done and I had to turn off my overhead lights because my camera tried to make the dark blue background look like some sort of algal bloom on an abandoned pond.  (Translated: gross.  Very gross.)

I trimmed it and then went searching for something for binding.  I bought enough of the blue background, but then, like a moron, miscalculated the number of pieces I needed, cut all of them, and now I do not have enough blue.

My initial idea of red was discarded, as none of the reds in the quilt have enough left.  Same with yellow.  And the two oranges I have enough of are both of the busier variety so might not look so great as binding.  Pink?  Yep.  I had enough pink.  Whew!  That was getting scary - thought I might have to make a trip to the store!

Woo hoo!  Quilted!

The machine behaved fairly well.  Averaged one thread break per flower, in its favorite spot.  Very few in the blue.  So not bad, but still frustrating.

I researched some more and tweaked a few more things before starting the next quilt.

I didn't think I was going to quilt this one yesterday, but the hubby suggested I just get it done.

I debated custom quilting, but there are SO MANY different blocks and I'd want to change thread colors (I do have green and red and white, so it wasn't a real problem that way), and I wasn't sure how the machine was going to behave, so I decided to just do an overall pattern.  One that, if the longarm broke threads, I'd have a good point to stop and start - swirls provide that, right?

So it got swirls.

One thread break per entire pass!  (Plus two bobbins running out.)  Very good, but I also did the baby quilt a few weeks back with minimal issues.

Just keep tweaking things, right?

I have no finished photos of this one, but I do have the red binding attached, waiting for hand-sewing.

This makes FIVE quilts waiting for hand-sewing the binding down.  I'm too busy getting everything else done to have the patience to sit still that long!

I have ONE more quilt I'd like to quilt.  And one more that is in progress (Positivity) that will need to be quilted before long.

By then I'll be on such a roll maybe I'll quilt some of the other languishing quilts?


I have so much cat hammock fabric, I need to work on those.  I have been - actually more than piecing even - but the pile never seems to get smaller.  The finished pile is climbing, but that's a whole other pile.

I found my favorite fat quarter from the masks leftovers donation...

...I set it on my cutting mat so you could clearly see the wastefulness of this decision.  (Please pardon my camera that also thinks this color is pond scum.  It's really just a solid grey.)

I can still use the edges for hanging loops, but there were a lot of fabrics with fairly ridiculous cuts made into them for a single mask.  This was by far the worst.

Oh well.  It was free to me and I'm figuring out how to use as much as I can.

And that is the whole story of my sewing week.  (There was weeding and watering outside, shifts at work, chores inside and all the normal just being alive stuff happening, too, but that's boring.)

Time to go see if I can squeeze in a little sewing before lunch with friends!

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 29, 2023

lots of longarming

The crazy quilt list from a few months back is getting whittled down a fair amount.  I still have a chunk to go, but it's feeling less stressful.

This week I made a big dent, as I quilted not one but two of the quilts from the list!

First up, last Monday after I finished blogging, I loaded up the tiger:

Of course this is the last photo I have of it, but you can see I'm ready to go at least.  It took longer than I anticipated and I quilted it differently than I originally thought, but sometimes quilts do that.

The machine behaved tolerably well.  I had some issues, but got it done.  I promptly sewed on the binding, but haven't done the hand-sewing side.

(I haven't hand-sewn down the Tiny Stars binding either.  Too many other things distracting me!)

Next I moved on to Blockstep.  I finished the remaining blocks in a single sitting - they go a lot quicker than many of the quilts I've been making lately - and then it was time to figure out a layout.

This is another one that a lot of fussing isn't going to change much, so I made sure no to fabrics were touching each other (other than the grey, which is the "background" color) and sewed it together.

The border includes some single blocks, so once I got the top together, I decided what fabrics to choose for the border blocks.  They're a bit different than the inner blocks, so it was just easier than guessing what I might like.

I like it better with the borders.  Before them it looked a little chaotic and you wouldn't know the grey was supposed to be a constant.  I was worried that would happen, but am thankful for borders this time.

Saturday dawned and the hubby had disappeared.  (Okay, I know where he went, but he left without me.)  So I decided I would just quilt this.  It would go fast, right?

Again, my plan for quilting changed once I got it loaded.

And no, it did not go fast.  I'm not sure if the new idea took longer, but it was easier as far as not stopping and starting as much.  It took only 4 bobbins, but I opted for a grid, which like the Tiny Stars quilting, required a 90 degree turn to get the second half of the quilting done.

BUT.  It is done.

Currently draped over the longarm because that dang water-erasable blue pen is persisting in just a few spots.  Then it will get binding attached.  (It's made, just can't be attached to a damp quilt.)

And THEN I moved onto the Positivity quilt along.  This was a late addition to my ridiculous list, but only because it was announced when it was.  I was expecting it and planning to do it, I just didn't know WHAT it was going to be.

Now I know.  Cutting instructions were released last week and block construction was released yesterday.

So I started sewing.

It doesn't look like much yet, but Preeti has an ingenious method of constructing these blocks (yes, yes, it involves bias seams...she knows it, I know will be fine) and I'm up for learning something new.

My quilt, due to my jelly roll being a half roll with only 20 strips, will be smaller than the original, but I looked up where the quilt is going and I think I'll be okay.  (The jelly roll was included in with cat hammock fabric and is unusable for those, so why not put it to use for a different charity?)

I have added another quilt to the need-to-be-done-soon longarm list, as one of the hubby's coworkers is retiring.  She has been there quite a while and he is the one who hired her all those years ago.  She doesn't work for him any more (they've both moved on and moved up), but they still have a work friendship and I know she will appreciate it.  So before I started a whole new quilt (on a tight schedule, of course, because why would we know about this ahead of time?), I offered a few that were just languishing.  He chose Tumbleweeds.

(I did make sure he understood that I would start one from scratch if needed, but he was okay with this one and I'm also okay with that!)

A back has been purchased, washed and pieced.  I thought about quilting it today (it seems Mondays are good for that), but the hubby is home and the yard is needing some attention.  So that's where my day is going.

The Woodland Wonderland quilt is also in the wings, waiting.  I did find a back for it, but wasn't enamored of it and was just going to make it work.  Then I realized it would be PERFECT for Blockstep.  So back to the search.  I did find one.  Another one that I like better, so that has also been washed and pieced.

In other news...

I put in a small garden again this year.  We used the same spot, but this year instead of lots of tomatoes, I put in just two (a slicer and a grape).  I added peppers (two plants, one spicy, one not) and herbs (dill, rosemary, basil and oregano) to fill the tomato spots.  Green beans again this year, but I'm trying radishes as well.  I'm not sure if my soil is soft enough for them, but we'll find out!

I'm going to do some research on drying/preserving the herbs, though I will also enjoy using them fresh when cooking this summer.

And Finn...oh Finn...

I'm not sure if there is something that is sprayed on the produce to make it last longer or clean it or what, but this cat cannot get enough of produce.  Carrots, celery, strawberries...we don't feed them to him (I'm not sure what is safe and I'm not sure he wants the produce itself anyways), but he sure wants to give them all the loves!  This packaging also proved VERY good at chin scritches, as you can see.

Time to go sew a bit while the hubby plays some video games...

Happy quilting!

Monday, May 22, 2023

finally something that feels like progress!

After what felt like weeks of small increments of progress on the Woodland Wonderland, I have a finished top!

Taking the photo this morning gave me a backlit effect, but you can see here it is clearly done.  I love it!

(And you can see the 400,000 half square triangles I mentioned last week.)

I went out looking for a back for it this weekend and found nothing I liked.  So the hunt continues, but that means the tiger will go on the longarm today.  (I'm not looking forward to that, but it must be done.)

Once the Woodland Wonderland quilt top was finished, I dug right into Blockstep.

Cutting seemed to take forever and I mathed wrong (I'm making the quilt a size between two given on the pattern), but finally I had all the pieces cut, randomized and ready to sew.

These go fast!

I'm more than halfway done with blocks already, after just two sessions of sewing.  (One of them rather short.)

Here is a sample of the two blocks that make up the quilt.  I'm worried that it will be too random and look goofy, but there's no way to know for sure until I'm done.  So onward I sew.

Last week I mentioned that I'd pieced the back for Tiny Stars with the intention of quilting it Monday.  And I did!

It's a monster for sure!  It's HEAVY, but what do you expect?  It's got over 1000 tiny blocks in there!

I wanted to do something fairly simple, so I decided to do something like an orange peel design, but not the full peel.  I thought it would go fast.  I thought it wouldn't use much thread.


After a few sections, it was NOT going fast and it was using a LOT of thread.  Then I realized, I was basically quilting every inch.  On a quilt that's nearly 100 inches square.

So yeah.

Seven bobbins.

(I thought I was gonna hit eight, but I just squeaked it in with seven.)

At least it was simple.  And the longarm behaved beautifully.

Here's the back, after quilting, of course.

If I had gone back and done the other arc, it would have made the orange peel whole, but I was trying to miss where the thicker seams were and this motif fit the bill perfectly.  (Not that the seams are THAT bad, but still...)

And here's how it looks on the front, with one of the few lighter background stars to help see what I did.

I don't have a whole-quilt photo, but it's also not done.  I pieced together leftover binding parts and sewed them on to the quilt, but haven't touched it since.

I'm hoping the multi-colored binding doesn't ruin it.  I did have more of the grey (the second grey I bought for this, though none of those blocks are in the photo - these are all either the first grey (swirls) or leftovers from my stash that were used for fun) and debated using that, but decided this whole thing is so scrappy, it would be silly to use something that all matched.  I hope I'm right.

So this waits, but the worst part is done.  It took quite a while, particularly because I needed to turn it 90 degrees after doing all the lines going one way.  And even more so because I miscalculated (or the fabric shrunk in the wash) and didn't have enough extra on the sides of the quilt to load it properly.  So instead of adding a leader onto the edges (do I even have anything I'd like to sacrifice that is 100 inches long - twice?), I quilted and buried threads for the outer four rows on either end so I could load it close and still get to where it needed to be quilted.  (Maybe not the best solution, but a solution and it worked.)

It took the better part of Monday - dinner was even delayed a bit - but it's quilted.

In other news, my cats do not want to come inside, even when it's raining...

Our warmer weather has been slow in coming since that one week where it was nearly 80 every day (about a month ago), so the window to the cat run has not been open much.  Last Friday it was nice enough, so I opened it.  And then it clouded over and started raining.  These two were both mad and didn't want to come in until it REALLY started raining.

Thankfully the warmer weather has returned (this time I think to stay), so they'll have plenty more time to play outside in the coming months.

Time to quit stalling and go quilt that tiger!  The hubby has requested tiger footprints, but he wants them with claws...more like a bear print from the photos I came up with.  He is not getting that.  I'm not sure I can do either of those effectively, so I'm debating between a leafy meander or maybe following the piecing.  The latter might get tricky, as there are some really thick seams where a lot of skinny pieces come together, but we'll see.  Once I get it loaded I can reassess.

But it feels good to have so many of the quilts from the list moving forward (or even done)!  I knew I'd get there, but at one point that list was scary.

Happy quilting!

PS The next-up baby quilt (due date has been moved back to December 6th from the 23rd) will be for a boy.  I suspected as much, but I suppose I had a 50/50 chance anyways!

Sunday, May 14, 2023

the birds

This week has been fairly productive, but today I'm going to start with my Pantone Quilt Challenge entry!

The point of this challenge is to use the Pantone color of the year (this year it's Viva Magenta) in a quilt.  I participated a few years back with Living Coral and made "Twirly."  The challenge took a hiatus for a few years and is back now. Hooray!

Let's start with the whole quilt, shall we?

And the stats:

Quilt Name: The Birds
Size: 82x80"
Pieced and quilted and bound by me

This quilt is defying me in my efforts to photograph it.  Every photo I take lately seems to have the colors wonky, so I headed out to my clothesline, thinking the somewhat overcast day would be okay, but I was wrong.  Thankfully a little editing got it in shape, but of course the clothesline is too low.  (If it was high enough, it would be useless to me to actually use, though, so...)

This all started out with a half-baked plan and some fabric...

As you can see, quite a few of the fabrics never made the cut.  I actually had a whole other project in mind when I saw the more traditional print sitting on top of this pile and a whole other idea was hatched.  (That may or may not have required a second trip to the fabric shop because I may or may not have purchased that print the first time around.)

I even though I might make two quilts.


(For those of you new here, I dug myself a big quilty hole shortly after I purchased fabrics and was quite overwhelmed for a bit.  It's better now.  Sort of.)

In the process of researching the Sparrows pattern, I came across a quilt along that the designer was hosting.  And the timeline was great - I mean it started like tomorrow, but the end was nicely in line with the Pantone challenge deadline, so that worked out well in my favor.

So I pulled some fabrics from the stash (I'd already been to the store twice at this point and I think my hubby might have taken away my credit card if I tried to go back a third time in three days)...

...this was an early-ish pull and some things got swapped out (the background, for one) and a few added in (green and yellow) as I realized I didn't have enough to make the larger version of the quilt.  (Go big or go home?)

Cutting was interesting - lots of quarters added to whole inch increments where I'm used to half inches.  Thankfully that was an easy error to fix.  And then I had to mix and match.  To make sure one bird wasn't all blue at the end or something.

I used the very high tech method of keeping things straight called "cheapest paper plates I can find".  It worked nicely to keep me organized (and bonus - they have already been reused for the baby quilt I talked about in my last post!).

Each week for four weeks, I constructed a lot of birds.

(the colors here, too, seem to be defying me)

Okay, it was nine.  Nine birds.  It seemed like more some weeks.

The last week of the quilt along was top construction.  This was fairly easy since there were only sashing between the rows of birds.  And those of you who know me, know I do NOT like long seams, so fewer sashings was a huge win!

My design floor isn't quite large enough, but it's all good.  Toby is learning how to be a quilty helper.  Usually he just supervises and sleeps in the couch-chair in my sewing room, taking any pets and ear scritches I hand out when I'm up to press block parts or whatever.

Here he is demonstrating how large the birds are.  Toby weighs approximately 14 pounds.  He is not a small cat.  He is not a fat cat.  The birds are much larger than I initially expected from just the photo on the pattern cover.

With a lot of seams and keeping track of what row I was on, finally I had a top!

This photo probably shows all the colors the best, but you can see my poor hubby's wingspan isn't quite enough.  But at this point, I was happy to have a photo clearly showing the whole top was done - which was the whole point of the quilt along.

And then I got COVID.  First time testing positive since the start of this whole disease debacle, but I'm sure I had it in March of 2020 also.  Thankfully having been fully vaccinated, my course was shorter and less awful than the first time, and I could get back to procrastinating quilting this.  (But I did spend a few days feeling sorry for myself and wondering if I was EVER going to be able to use my brain again - nasty headache, among other troubles.)

I didn't have a quilt back, so I picked up this beautiful (that I forgot to take a photo before I started quilting) yellow fabric for the back next:

This color is pretty accurate and it makes me think so much of dandelions.  I mean, it looks like them and all, but the color.  It's just so happy.

I loaded it all up and gave my longarm a little pep talk (those of you who are new here - we've been having some thread breaking tantrums of late) and off I went.

The longarm behaved quite nicely.  Only one real thread break and that was near the end of a bobbin, which can sometimes be a problem.

Wanna know what I did?

You're all gonna laugh at me.

I oiled the felt disk that is part of the upper tension assembly.

It needs to be done periodically, but I hadn't done it in a while.

I guess it needs to be done more often than I was doing it.

At least I hope that is all it was.

Anyways, I opted for "the Katie" (swirls) to quilt it, though after I saw a motif another blogger used that starts with a bit of a swirl, but then loops flower petals around the outside, I was like DUH!  Oh well.  Far too late now.

(But to be honest, swirls are easy for me and with my machine potentially throwing 52 thread tantrums each pass, I wanted something easy.)

417 bobbins later (okay, okay, I think it was 7), I finished!  It took a good part of Monday, but it was done!

On to binding - I watched the whole season of "That 90's Show" (I think it was only about 8 episodes?) while hand-stitching it down.  It was a good distraction from the highly repetitive task.  Not that I mind it, but when in a time crunch, one must have their thoughts guided away from the panic of a deadline.

And then, Thursday afternoon, it was done!

I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.  Hindsight tells me I should have made the smaller version, but that just seemed too small for a good couch quilt.

But I think I'm keeping it.  Mostly because I love the back?

The rest of my week (I did allow myself some non-challenge sewing just to keep me sane) consisted of some cat hammocks and more work on the Woodland Wonderland quilt.

First, I put together the gnome row:

And THEN!  Though the pattern does still have some random construction elements, I started putting together the top!

Toby and Freddie took the first watch on quilt layout duty.  (Freddie was actually under everything, but I pulled it back because he is much handsomer when you can see him than his under cover lump form.)

There was much rowdying and reassortment of parts at this stage, but thankfully most of it was in larger chunks, so it wasn't difficult to figure out where things went back to.

And now I have most of a top!

Well, with Finn under it.  He didn't want to miss out on the modeling duties, but also didn't want to actually help.  (He is also handsomer than his lump-under-cover form, but, well...whatever.)

This isn't quite the whole top.  I mean, if I wanted to quit here, the pattern says that's okay.  But the original design has 400,000 flying geese along the right side of the quilt.  So I still have to make most of those.

Yet this is very exciting to finally have so much to show.  Since the pattern instructions were so willy-nilly, I had a lot of parts and pieces and not much to really feel like I could show as progress.  Finally today it came together.

I've also pieced the back for Tiny Stars, with a plan to longarm it tomorrow.  I think.  I've been selected for jury duty these next two weeks and while I know for sure I don't have to report tomorrow, the remainder of the next two weeks are uncertain.  So I'm weighing my Monday options with the thought in the back of my mind that a good part of the next two weeks may not be my own.

(No photos of the back yet - sorry.  Maybe next week?)

And with that, I'm off to link up and make 300,000 flying geese!

Happy quilting,

P.S.  There were a lot of half square triangles to trim in the birds quilt, so I made a trimmings monster.

He seems like a friendly little guy, no?