Monday, January 23, 2023

not quilts

I sewed a fair amount this week, but none of it was quilts.


I did sew some of the binding on the second quilt, but it's not done yet and I'm very good at finding other things to do than sew on binding.

I did sew quite a few cat hammocks.  And I dropped off a big stack of them.  I think I'm about halfway through the last delivery of fabrics, but they compress more at the bottom of the pile, so it's deceptive.  I'll just keep sewing!

What else did I sew?

I saw a story (short video) on Instagram where a guy got some fabric book sleeves.  (It's a book-centric account, so this makes sense.)  They were from someone who makes them to sell, but I thought 'I can do that' so I did.

After some time with Pinterest and YouTube, I cobbled together instructions from about three tutorial (therefore I will not be sharing a link) and gave it a shot.

The way you make this one (from the part of one tutorial), you sew it - pocket and all - and then turn it.  I had accidentally pressed the interfacing to the light blue - which I had originally intended to be the inside - but decided it would be the outside.  And then when I turned it, it was inside out.


So I rolled with it.

And stuck a book inside.

And went to eat lunch.

Then realized that I could easily flip the pocket that holds the front flap the other way around.  But I'd already top-stitched it.  Hmm...

After lunch, I picked out all the top-stitching and turned it and re-top-stitched it.  And then took no photos.

I do like this blue and wanted to choose something that wouldn't show dirt (kinda like making masks, you know they're gonna get dirty after some use, so choose fabrics wisely), but having the interfacing on the inside fabric seemed silly and I really do like that light blue, too.

So it's flipped.


The next book would barely fit.  I barely squeezed this one in (the tutorials had varying amounts added to the book height and varying seam allowances...I thought I'd done good math, but apparently the interfacing and top-stitching took a bit more than I expected), so what to do?

Make another one!

I went to bed the night after I finished the book in the photo above, with the new book squeezed into the cover to start tomorrow.

About midnight I woke up and was laying in bed trying to get back to sleep, so I was mentally going through my fabric stash.  (Not that I have so little or can remember it all, but still...what else are you going to do when you can't get to sleep?  Sorting fabric mentally is kinda like counting sheep!)  And then I remembered the fox fabric.

I almost flew out of bed right then.


I probably would have if I hadn't had to work the next day.  So I stayed in bed, eventually falling back to sleep, and could not wait for my shift at work to end the following day so I could sew this new sleeve - a bit bigger.

I tried to cut carefully so I would minimize missing heads, but when they're offset like this, it's inevitable.  Also, as anyone who has ever tried to cut a panel or something fussy knows, there is no such thing as straight.  You line up one set of fox paws and three over you're at his knees.  You line up one set of fox ears and three over you've lost half his head.  So I did my best.

This one went together a little easier than the first one - probably because I knew better what I was doing and didn't have to revisit the tutorials a half dozen times.  (I also had a few notes from the first go-round.)

I'm not very good at fussy-cutting, so imagine my delight when it turned out with a perfect row of foxes on the inner flap!

The strap you see (pink on the first, turquoise on the second) allows you to fold the tapered end around the book cover and tuck it in, making the whole thing adjustable.  So as long as the height of the book fits, you can put in a thicker or thinner book without much trouble.

These two fit the larger size paperback books, but when I come to the hardcovers in my to-be-read stash, I'll have to make more.

Oh the horror.

(Next up, I'm thinking about making a pieced one.  And maybe work on some little embroideries to include in a fourth?)

Toby, meanwhile, was helping me sew.

Clearly all that supervising wore him right out.  Or maybe my mumbling to myself was driving him crazy.  He just buried his face in the comfiest thing around and soldiered on.  Poor kid.

Today is a mish-mash of chores and lunch with friends, so we'll see what I get done.  Hopefully later this week I'll get more sewing done, but today is sketchy.

Happy quilting,

Monday, January 16, 2023

introducing easy addition

I can't remember just how long ago it was, but I saw this quilt...probably via Pinterest...and fell in love.

Then, about a year ago, I was planning to go to a quilt retreat and needed projects, so I went on a search to find some quilts that I could cut out and easily sew at said retreat.  This one started screaming at me.

And so I raided my stash, thinking I wouldn't have much in the approximate colors this gal used - the reason it was screaming at me.

Boy was I surprised to find ALL of this in my stash!

The dark blue for the background wasn't much of a presence, but I remedied that pretty easily with some retail therapy...though it seems I have no photographic proof.

This was Project Number One at retreat.  I was so excited.  These fabrics all look amazing together, but never would have I thought to put them together myself.

After just one partial day of sewing (driving took a few hours and then you gotta unload and unpack everything), I had quite a few blocks!

They look a little matchy-matchy here, but as I made block "kits" at home, I was going through fabrics in a more organized way.  And then I just sewed them in the order they were in the stack.  It gets better eventually, I promise!

Day two saw a LOT more sewing...

And I had all the blocks completed!

Due to lack of design wall space and my brain needing to focus better on getting a good final layout for these, I packed them up and moved on to the next projects.  (If you want a full recap, this blog post from late February 2022 is where to go.)

Anyways, when I got home, I eventually got to the layout.  I don't know when exactly because when I got a new computer and transferred all my photos, they redated themselves to ALL be January 6th.  Very helpful computer.  Very.  (At least it let me have my photos from the old computer, so, you know, little victories.)

This took a while because I was trying SO hard to not have any of the same fabrics touching.  I thought I had it taken care of, but as I was sewing and longarming, I found a few mistakes.  Well, not mistakes truly, but there were a few touchy-touchy matchy-matchy parts.  It doesn't matter.  And if it matters to you, I suggest you don't try to use quilts at my house.

And then I sewed them all together.

Based on the amount of green I see here in this photo, it must have taken me a few months to get to the top construction.  We don't have that much plant life in February up here where I live.

And then, in late December (recent enough that I remember doing this and don't have to rely on technology to have dates saved!), I got it on the longarm.  Quick on the heels of getting the baby quilt done, I thought it best to try to keep up the momentum.

(Also, I knew some of my quilty friends were planning to attend a short-day sew-in and wanted something easy to transport to take with me.  Hand-binding is a good option.)

It went fairly well.  The longarm and I had a few arguments, but I was persistent.  I used the same woodgrain-like motif as the baby quilt, using seams on the quilt to decide where to make the registration-like initial wavy lines.  I would probably do it smaller next time, but this pattern was giving me difficulty to decide how large it was going to end up.

I was pushing myself, wanting to be done before lunch.  And things were going okay...for a late-ish lunch...and then I got to the last roll...

Are you kidding me?

It is literally enough to finish the quilt, but not to hold it onto the leader AND quilt it.

So I took a lunch break and pouted a little.

Then I sewed on some extra fabric (that I removed from the top of the quilt because I loaded it - obviously - a bit too generously up there), reloaded and finished.

Thankfully, the longarm behaved nicely for this last section.  I guess it felt bad for me?  Or maybe it was happy to have a lunch break?

This was one of the few quilts waiting that did not have binding made ahead.  More often than not, I make the binding when I'm making the top - it forces me to set aside the fabric for the binding so it matches at the end and allows me to make sure I don't have a crisis of not matching binding whenever I get to longarming it.  But this one, being super scrappy, I wasn't sure what I'd do for binding.

Thankfully the stash provided a nice chunk of one of the blues that was in the quilt and I used that.

Cut, sewed, ironed, sewed onto the quilt and set aside for the sew-in.

I finished the binding at the sew-in last Monday, but since that happened AFTER my last blog post, you got to wait until now to see the finish!

It has been sunny and not terribly cold here (considering it is January...still cold, though), so yesterday I ran out for a photo.  (And you can see here the dead grass and leaves surrounding the quilt - taken on the same clothesline as the top photo above - for reference to the approximate time of year.)

You can see the quilting a bit where the sun was shining between the large tree trunks and branches.  (No leaves this time of year, but that's okay, lets the sunlight come in windows better when we really want it.)

And a quick flipped up photo so you can see my back really well...

I was shopping for something else at my local quilt shop and came across this in the sale room and bought it.  No hesitation whatsoever.  This was THE fabric for the back of this quilt.  I love it!

I love the whole quilt.


Size: 72x72" (I'm pretty sure)
Pieced and quilted by me!

It is currently on the couch and will probably stay there for a bit.

With this binding done at the sew-in, I continued on to quilt #2.  (Remember I took three in an overly ambitious craze...)  I got about one side of that done, but everyone started packing up fairly early, so I might have gotten more done if we'd stayed later.  That's okay.  I had a ton of fun chatting and getting lunch at my favorite local deli.

Yesterday I picked it up again.  (Between work and cat hammocks, I haven't done much quilting lately.)

Toby jumped right in to help...

Such a cute sleepy boy.  He was a little irritated when I had to move the whole thing eventually, but he settled back in pretty soon after.  (Here he looks so sweet, but he is still a bitey, rowdy turd.  That I love more than anything.)

This quilt isn't quite finished binding.  I had to go to a work Christmas party (yes, late, but having a holiday party at the holidays when you work retail is a bit difficult), so it will wait for another day.  Soon probably.  I'd like to get these done and into the rotation...or at least off the list...sooner rather than later.

Toby has also been super snuggly at random lately.  I think it's the cooler weather.  One day last week he claimed my lap and crashed out.  But Finn also wanted to be in my lap and Finn has no personal boundaries.  So he helped himself.

Toby gave him the side-eye.  Finn was happy to have extra warms, so he settled right in.  He can ignore dirty looks.  Whatever.

And so Toby looked at me like this.  You can just see the question on his face.

They stayed this way for a bit, but then Finn, in true derpy cat fashion, saw something move and was off to check that out.  Toby stayed quite a bit longer.

And that is my week.  Plus work.  Plus cat hammocks.  And all the other stuff you do when you're an adult but no one wants to really know about how many times you scooped the litterbox or how many bags of groceries you bought this week, so I'll skip that nonsense.  If you want, you can imagine it.  But probably you have better things to do.

Happy quilting!

Oh, wait.  The Storygraph app is so awesome, I'm reading faster than I might otherwise because they gave me this pie chart and I want to change it.  Nothing wrong with it, just fun to manipulate data.

Yep, I'm a nerd.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

more quilting, but no proof

I keep seeing these year-end wrap up posts and thinking I should do one, but then I keep quilting more quilts and getting too busy and...well...then I had to buy a new computer and let's just say I'm done with overextending my technology bone right now, okay?!  Just the blog for now.

Despite still being somewhat sick (I feel a lot better, but am still very congested, which is super fun...not), I've gotten a fair amount done this week.  I still feel a bit like I'm playing catch-up, but I'm getting there.

First, after my realization that I had no binding for the Molehills quilt I quilted last week, I remedied that.

I promise it has been sewn and pressed and sewn to the quilt, but as always, I'm lazy and the phone stayed on a shelf across the room instead of taking photos.  This medium grey is just perfect with the colors of the quilt, in my humble opinion!

Tomorrow I go to my guild sew-in, so maybe I'll get a photo then, when I'm working on it?  (Don't hold your breath!)

And then I felt well enough last Thursday that I loaded ANOTHER quilt on the longarm!

This is another fairly recent finish and I'm not thrilled with how it came out compared to the pattern (colorwise), but even if I decide to donate it, at some point it needs to be finished, right?

I have no in-progress photos, but will say that my machine behaved like a dream.  Not one single thread break.  And I was using black thread, which can sometimes be a huge hassle.  I'm not sure what I did, but maybe the technology and virus gods decided to be nice to me since I've had a rough few weeks?  (I also got a new phone at Christmas and I hate having to reset all my preferences...why can't those transfer, too?!)

I did an all-over design that was called something about ferns, but it I could not help but think of the folded lining of the intestine.  (Nerd alert!)  I'll have to remember to get a photo of that design when I present the finished project.

This, too, now has the binding sewn on, ready for the hand-sewing side.  This one, at least, binding had been prepared ahead.

That gives me THREE quilts needing hand-sewing of binding to take with me tomorrow.  That was my goal.  Yay!

(But I'm also hoping that the string of finishing quilts keeps going beyond this small goal.  We'll see how my motivation goes without a solid deadline.)

In other news, with the start of the new year, I wanted to start a new scrap journal.  Last year I started one and wondered if I'd make it through a whole year.  I basically saved all sorts of random bits of things (fabric bits, receipts, banana stickers) and stuck them into a weekly planner.  It was fun and looking back was great.  I could remember when I started a quilt and even remembered some projects I forgot!

You can kinda see here the 2022 is busting at the seams, but that little elastic strap was nice to keep it all kind of contained.  I struggled to find one that I liked for 2023 and the one on the right is what I settled on, but it had no elastic.

No problem.

A few rivets and some elastic and I'm in business!

But then I realized I was out of glue sticks.  How did that happen?  I thought I had a package of a half a dozen, but they are MIA, so I put it on the list.

Also, with the new year, I've started a new reading goal.  I'd been tracking my books on a couple of apps on my phone, a process that started because I was tired of reading 10 pages of a book and wondering if I'd read that one before.  It started out with one app, but then Goodreads came along and that had a few more features, like a reading challenge where it tracked how many books you read.  And then this year, super nerd Katie heard about Storygraph and I was in love.  It obviously tracks your books and you can join reading challenges (multiple options!), BUT they make you graphs using your books.  Pie graphs and line graphs and bar graphs about genres and pace and number of pages and all sorts of goodies.  So you know I signed up, right?

And that led me down a rabbit hole, of course.

Which lead me to realizing that my stack of books in the hallway outside my door was just boring when I could put it on a cart like other people.

So after a quick trip to the store to purchase said cart (and glue sticks) and some strange looks from my cats about the noises I was making (which were forgiven when they realized there was a BOX for them to play in), I dragged this up to compare the old and new options.

I wasn't sure how or if this would fit in the spot, but it is beautiful and I would find an alternate home if needed.  I also wasn't sure if all the books would fit, but they do...I even have room for more!

Not that I have any plans to buy more books right now.  I need to read more of what I already have.  But I'm working on it.  One book has already been removed and I'm over 100 pages in!

Turns out it fits nicely.  It sits sideways next to the door and though the cats don't have as much room to squeeze in and out of my room as they used to, the door opens just fine.  (The cats just have zero patience and want to go through the door as though it rolls up like a garage door, not swings like a bedroom door...even without anything there, they try to get through a half-inch crack as soon as they can see it is kinda open!)

In other news, Finn, the cat who loves bags of apples and bags of carrots...

 ...also loves celery...

He is the weirdest cat.  He was mad when I took this away and put it back in the fridge.  But when he tried to start nibbling at the leaves, it was time to put it away.  I don't think celery is dangerous, but it's not a good habit to encourage.

And with that, I am going to find something more productive to do than sit at this new computer any longer.  (I'm sure there are still odds and ends to modify to my liking, but for the most part, things are doing what I need.)

Happy quilting!

Monday, January 2, 2023

happy new year and another quilt quilted and a finish I can finally share

This new year has snuck on me.  Heck, the last four months have flown by and I feel like I've barely noticed.  How is that possible?!

This past week has been quite the rollercoaster...I've gone from healthy to sick to maybe healthy to still sick to kinda healthy again, but I think today I've finally turned a corner and, after two days of feeling better than the days before, hoping I'm finally on the mend.

But it's not the dreaded plague.  Not that it makes much difference in the fact that I feel like poop.

Oh well, at least I had enough presence of mind to read while snuggling kitties in bed, so that's a plus!

Friday last week I THOUGHT I was on the mend, and was feeling rather decent, so I decided to load up another quilt on the longarm.

This is another one that has been kinda nagging me to get it done and I was struggling with how.  I debated about doing a different motif in each arc (repeating between arc groups, but not within), but couldn't settle on what all to do.  Some were busier than others and would end up with a randomly puffy quilt and I wanted something more uniform.

Then Thursday night I had an idea.  I would do large, skinny loops from the base of each arc set through to the top and do some doodling inside.  Well that sounded good until I got the quilt out and realized just how wide those arcs are at the top and how narrow at the bottom.

But that led me to another idea.

Why not little bumps all across each arc?  Uniform.  Easy.  (Ha ha ha ha! My longarm disagreed a lot.)  Fairly fast.  (Again, the longarm had an opinion there.)

It took longer than I wanted, but I had a lot of thread breaks.  In the same position every time.  I'm sure there is an issue with the longarm, but I was determined to finish, so I dealt with the thread breaks (there weren't THAT many, but still annoying) and will figure out the longarm later.

I did get it finished, but not before the hubby made it home from work.  Oops!

This is another one that I haven't made binding for, but I'm thinking a dark grey or black would be a nice offset to the final product.  I haven't gotten to that but I felt absolutely awful on Saturday (I even called in to work!) and had family Christmas on Sunday, so maybe today?

Speaking of Christmas, my sister-in-law got me some awesome fabrics.

I haven't opened them yet, but they are super cute.

I managed to sew some cat hammocks, too, before I got sick enough to just stay in bed.  One of the fabrics had bananas on it.

I giggled pretty hard that I made banana hammocks.  (The other fabrics weren't as interesting.  Like plain burgundy.  Useful, but not so fun.)

And finally, the finished baby quilt for my niece!

It started out with finding this pattern that I loved.

Then I pulled some fabrics from my stash - holy cow I got the whole thing from my stash?  This is good, but scary!

And then there was a lot of cutting.

And piecing.

And laying things out...with help...  Of course.

It went pretty fast, considering.

In mid-September I had the top done and he just needed eyeballs.  I forced myself to do that right away so when I was ready, after much procrastinating, to longarm it, all would be ready.

I even prepped a back and made binding from that pile of stash!

And then it sat.

So, a few weeks ago, knowing that Christmas with the family would be a great time to give this quilt (she is due in February, but we don't see her often), I needed to get going.

One of the pictures I'd seen of this quilt online had a woodgrain motif quilted into it, with the grain going top-to-bottom, so that looked good to me.  Unfortunately my back was a size that I could not load this sideways and do the woodgrain going the correct direction - in my brain.  So it stalled.

Finally, after finding a semi-tutorial I liked that would provide me with a woodgrain-like design, I decided sideways would be okay and set to work.

It went fairly quickly and then it was done.

I went right up and sewed on the binding and in the following days did the hand-sewing portion.  It still needed a label, but I ignored that.  Those are quick, right?

And then Christmas got postponed.  My mom was sick.  So I had a bit longer to postpone that label.

Guess when I sewed it on?

Right before we left for Christmas that was postponed by a week and a day?

Yes.  Yes I did.

When did I get a photo of the finished quilt?

Right before I put it in the gift bag before folks started arriving at my parents for the celebration?

Yes.  Yes I did.

But I got it done.  And my mom got a good look at it before it left the premises, which she was happy about.

My niece, however, did not make it to Christmas.  Doing it on New Year's Day put a bit of a wrench in things, as her mom's family had plans that day.  My brother did make it out (he claimed he was hunting on my parents land, but mostly what I saw was him sitting on a couch, eating snacks and watching football with the family!), so he took the gifts (this and all the others) with him later that evening.

So technically this is my last finish of 2022.  The other quilts aren't finished, but I'm saving the binding for next Monday when my guild (what's left of it) has a sewing day.  It's easier to haul just a quilt that needs hand-sewn binding than all the other stuff.

And with that, I'm off to figure out lunch.  The hubby lost a crown last night and is off work for the holiday today, so I need to find something easy to eat while we wait on the dentist.

Happy quilting!