Sunday, August 1, 2021

just tiny stars

 This week hasn't been terribly busy, but I have little quilty progress to show.  Just tiny stars, in fact!

I have another set of 12 started, but my podcast ended, and I need to make dinner soon, so it seemed a good time to break for the day.

I haven't counted to see how many I have yet, but I did find my note telling me how many I will want depending on how large of a quilt I want to make.  Of course, I haven't committed that to memory, so I can't even tell you how many I want to end up with!  (I'm basically useless right now!)

The quilts that need hand sewing of binding are still waiting.  I'll get them done eventually.  (One of them has a deadline, but I'll be fine.)

But to be totally honest, this is not all I've done this week.  The group that collected the tan and blue blocks I shared a few weeks back is asking for red, white and/or blue star blocks for the months of July and August.  I decided to tackle a few, making them as a leader-ender project while making stars.  Of course, if I had started sooner, I would have more, but currently I have a single Ohio Star block half-finished.  I probably won't go as crazy as I did last month simply because my stash of true blues and true reds is limited, but a few is better than none, right?  And it uses up a bit more stash, so all good in the end.

I have had help, of course.

All of the kitties are obsessed with my wool pressing mat (to the point that I have to put it up, out of reach, at the end of every sewing session), but Finn is definitely the most obsessed.  He will lay on it, right next to a steamy hot iron.  He seems to be giving me "the eyeball" here and I'm not sure why.  Probably I was taking a photo instead of giving scritches?

Gabby was passed out, snoring, so I set her unicorn toy with her and she didn't move.  Though it is filled with catnip, sometimes snoozing is more important than catnip.  She has been extra happy lately, as the weather has been decent enough to have windows open and she LOVES to sit in the window in my sewing room and watch all the potential meals run and fly around outside.

As I sat down to type this, I realized that today is the first of the month, which means I should have drawn more sticks.  Since I finished zero of the four from last month (though one just needs the binding sewn down), I'm not as excited for the new sticks, but I have been pretty good about doing the one that includes random scraps, so at least something is getting done.  And we all hit slumps or chase squirrels, so all is well.  I haven't given up quilting or anything, just got a little overwhelmed with all the projects and had to ease up a bit.

Time to go make some dinner and slice up the zucchini bread I made earlier.  My mom sent me home with a zucchini about the size of a baseball bat, so when shredded it produced enough for two loaves.  The guys at work will be pleased, I hope.  I mean, zucchini is kinda healthy, but with all the sugar that went in, I'm pretty sure it negates the healthiness of a vegetable being in there.

Happy quilting!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

little bits

It doesn't feel like I've done much sewing in the past week and I can't exactly put my finger on why.  But since I don't have many photos, I suppose my feeling is right!

I did get the Positivity quilt quilted.  First, though, I went outside for a photo of just the top:

The quilting IS finished, but I have no in-process photos.  Between using batting scraps that were cut wonky and having to piece in inch-wide strips every here and there and my machine not wanting to behave (again), I was more focused on making sure that was all going correctly than getting pictures.

I trimmed it and used the leftover backing to make binding, which is also sewn down.  The machine-sewn side.  The hand-sewn side is waiting.  Partly for a cooler day, partly for me to have time.  Though I only work part-time, it seems to take a larger part of my week than I would like some weeks!

I promise a full reveal soon.

With that off my plate, I decided to start working on tiny stars again.  I had replenished my stash of fabrics with a visit to my mom earlier this month and it felt like time to get started sewing those.  It was either that or start something new and with my pile of to-be-quilted getting the better of me, I decided on tiny stars.

This first set is actually from fabrics I've added in the past few months.  Not much, but a few additions.  And all were purchased for projects specifically (except that one in the lower left corner, which I found when making cat hammocks - it had been sewn in as an additional piece for a quilt back and I didn't realize it was even in there!).

The second set (and third that is midway through sewing right now) started into what I cut from my mom's stash.

If you remember when I mentioned cutting these, my sister-in-law was also there.  And in cleaning up her sewing space, she threw some too-small-for-her scraps in a box, which she brought to me this weekend.  I don't have a photo of the fabrics, nor have I cut into them yet, but I do have Finn, who enjoyed the box very much.

He looks a bit perturbed here, but he was being a squirrel up until the photo, where I demanded his attention.  Gabby has since also claimed the box and ripped that green thing off that was stuck to the lid.  (I think it's an anti-mold thing or something?)  It clearly did NOT belong there, so she dispatched it with haste.

The reason I saw my sister-in-law, as well as my brother and parents, was the annual book sale that happens at my hometown library on July 4th had been reimagined in the last year.  Instead of one giant sale, they started having smaller ones every few months.  I didn't realize it until recently, but when I did, I made sure to ask for the Saturday off!  So I picked up my dad (mom had knee surgery on BOTH knees the day before and I think welcomed an hour or so of quiet, though I also think she was sad to have missed the sale) and my brother and his wife met us there.  I had run out of books that I owned (and have not read - the majority of what I read, I donate back) and was actually checking books out of the library!  Not that library borrowing is a bad thing, it just takes more planning (and wearing "real" pants) than a stash of your own.  Anyways, they had paper grocery sacks that you could purchase for $5 and fill.  I'm very good at book tetris!

How many books is that?

Good thing I'm a quilter and own proper things to measure stacks of books!

All of the cats had a good sniff.  All of these books having been previously owned, I'm sure this brought a wide variety of new smells to the house.  Freddie would NOT leave me alone.  I took about six photos of the stack before I got one without his tail or ear or face in it.  Finally I gave up and included him.  But this is probably my one photo of the quarter he will allow himself to be in, so enjoy it!

The sale was much smaller than the once-a-year sale.  I expected smaller, but they had about 3 10-foot tables full of paperback fiction (three wide) and that was it.  I'd guess usually they have a dozen 3-table setups in the annual sale.  And while I expected it to be smaller, I didn't expect it to be this much smaller.  But this stack will keep me reading for quite a few months, and if no other sales happen before I run out again, I've found my local library to be very friendly.  (And now that I've again learned to navigate the aisles, I'm less hesitant to visit.)

No photos of Gabby this week, but the other night, I was poking Toby with my toes and this is his mad pose:

He is such a ham.

Time now to get back to tiny stars.  And whatever else my day brings.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, July 18, 2021

lead head and cat hammocks

This week has not been terribly productive.  And not just on the sewing front.

Let's start at the beginning.  It started out promising...

Monday I met with a friend at the local quilt shop to use their (small) classroom to determine a layout for a wedding quilt she is making.  In years past, we would have done this at our guild's monthly sew-in, but those continue to be postponed.  The space there is larger, and often more members show up for input, but it is what it is.

As it turns out, a few other members did join us midway through the process, as they were invited to lunch with us.  Being vaccinated, I was okay with that.  This is most of the quilt - another row is pinned to the wall on the left.  It's going to be a huge king and the pattern was from All People Quilt, but I didn't get the name.  Barb always uses beautiful fabrics and this was no exception.

We had a great time fussing over the blocks, admiring the fabrics and chatting about all the things we've missed out on in the past year.  Lunch afterwards was also a fun time, but I was pretty worn out by the time I got home.  Peopling at work is a lot different than peopling with friends!

On the way home, I stopped for a new cat scratcher.  There is one in my sewing room, but it is on the small side for our kitties (the platforms are more kitten sized than cat) and I've been wanting to replace it.  I found an interesting corner scratcher and assembled it up in the room.  Gabby wasn't sure about me being turned loose with a screwdriver, though!

She makes such great faces!

(The scratcher was only three pieces plus a brace for the back, and went together just fine.)

Tuesday I went to work and worked my tail off.  I had coordinated with a gal at the local rescue to pick up the cat hammocks from me there, but since my boss is not so great at scheduling, we had more cashiers than registers, and being the most seasoned of the group, I was pulled away onto the sales floor to do freight and recovery duties.  As such, I missed her, but the hammocks are where they need to be, so all is well.

Wednesday I was exhausted.  Again, the tasks at work on Tuesday were more than average, so I was more tired than usual.  But I did manage to get some borders on the two dolly quilts I started, using my July sticks leftovers assignment.  (I guess I didn't take any photos of them at that stage?)  I'm sure I did more, but can't remember what.

Thursday the hubby was off work.  He had an extra day off this weekend for having worked last weekend, so we ran a few errands, but I got home and was so tired I ended up crashing out on that yellow chair you see Gabby sitting in above.  My throat was a little dry-scratchy, but I thought two days in a row of peopling more than usual might be the cause.

Short version here: Friday morning it was worse.  Saturday the sore throat was replaced by head and some chest congestion.  I was scheduled to work, but did not.  No one likes a sick coworker.  Today my head feels like it is full of lead, but as the day wears on, the lead seems to be dissipating.

This morning, I got up to do chores.  There are only so many days my hubby will let me lie around being sick before he gets feisty, and there were chores he just won't do that were getting necessary.  I thought getting up and doing them would help.  Turns out the nap following chores helped more.

And so I went up to quilt the dolly quilts I never took photos of...

Just using my walking foot here, but it was giving me fits.  I'm very tempted to look into a new machine.  It has been misbehaving with a lot of things lately, and just general sewing should not be this difficult.  (The walking foot has its own issues, but this goes beyond that.)  I'll have to do some pondering there, but since the hubby just spend a LOT of money on a PlayStation 5 (more than I'm sure I've spent on ALL my sewing machines (longarm not included) in my lifetime), so maybe I should get a new toy, too?

Anyways, these are intended as donations for kids who will probably not understand that they are special, so I'm not too worried about show-quality workmanship.  I wrestled two of them through the machine, each finishing about 17", and sewed down the binding.

I still need to hand-sew down the other half, but it feels good to have these done.  The remaining scraps have been placed in the stash and that box is empty.  Actually, it's been broken down for recycling!

And as I've sewn, my head has cleared quite a bit.  I'm very glad, but still have maybe something more like cobwebs in my brain now.

A few of you were asking about how I make the cat hammocks, so I thought I'd share that here as well.

The sizes of the hammocks were given by the rescue group.  I'm not sure how they determined them and will not share them with you, as other groups may have other size cages or needs.  I would guess they are probably the same width as a cage or crate, but not as deep.  The loops add a little width and help them hang down, but I can't say for sure how they calculated them.

1. Cut two rectangles (or squares) of fabric to the desired size plus ONE inch. 

2. Cut strips of fabric for loops - 6" per loop - at desired width.  (I used a 1" bias tape maker and cut the strips 1.75" as directed.  You'll want a sturdy strip in there, so double-fold bias tape, top-stitched shut, will work nicely.)

3. Place loops 1" from edge on short sides (if not square), with 1/2" sticking out of seam.  (This photo is of an earlier model in my efforts, so it doesn't stick out as much, but trust me, more is better!)  This should result in about 2" loops.  Well, 4" loops, but only 2" long.  Make sense?

4. Sew, right sides together, using 1/2" seam allowance, leaving about 5" open for turning.  Back-tack over loops, giving three layers of stitching in those spots.

5. Turn right side out, poke corners out as well as possible, and press.  You'll want to press these so you can top-stitch the edges.  This will require a little fabric shifting, as those sewn seams don't want to turn and lie flat.

6. Top-stitch all the way around, back-tacking anywhere you stop and start, about 1/8" to 1/4" in from edge of fabric.  (This is where that wide seam allowance is handy!)

7. Where loops are, create an "X" of top-stitching over the inner portion of the loop.  (Initially I did this by going back over it after I had gone around with the top stitching.  Later efforts, I realized if I stopped after I went over the loop and then turned to make the "X", I ended up on the starting side and was able to give it a second round of stitching.)

I hope that makes sense to those of you asking!  It is by no means a technical accounting of what I've done and I made up a good portion as I went along, using skills gained from making pillowcases and masks in the past.

And because I have no photos of my own, I stole a few from the rescue group's page to show you what the hammocks look like in action!

photo credit: Saved by Zade

And with a lucky kitten:

photo credit: Saved by Zade

As you can see, this kitty looks quite pleased with herself (himself?) to have such snazzy digs.  My understanding is that it gives them a comfy place to hang out, but can also provide a respite for momma cats who are nursing.  Sometimes it is necessary to keep momma and babies in a crate together, all the time, so momma has no break.  If she can climb up into a hammock, she can take a little snooze and recharge.  Kinda like those moms in commercials who locks themselves in pantries to eat a candy bar!

I also know that some of these will see little use before they are thrown out.  The kitties this group rescues are often in bad shape and many body fluids will be deposited onto whatever is put into the crate or cage with them.  Sometimes it is just easier, and safer, to toss these things out than wash them and possibly contaminate other resources the volunteers have.  I went into this project with full understanding of that, and accepted it without trouble.  I know my work needs to be quality to keep the kitties safe (the group specifically requested things like old towels not be used, as the little loops can catch claws), and if it only helps one kitty for one day, that will be enough for me.

If you are interested in making these, I would suggest you contact your local shelter or rescue groups and ask how you can help.  It may be they just need fabric.  Or maybe they don't do hammocks and would rather have cage mats.  If you want to help, I'm sure there is a group out there that will work with you and your abilities, because fostering is just the tip of the iceberg with animal rescue groups.

With that, I should start thinking on how tomorrow will proceed.  With the lead leaving my head, perhaps I can get something of substance done tomorrow?  I sure hope so.  I'm getting annoyed with my layabout lifestyle!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, July 11, 2021


A week ago, I was spending time with family, gaining a large bag of unwanted fabrics intended for cat hammocks.

Monday, I shared this first set of six:

I worked on Tuesday and Friday, but the other days this week, a good chunk of each day has been spent working on more hammocks...

I didn't take many photos, but I did stop often to pet my kitties, as I had a lot of "help" during my sewing episodes.

I worked through some pretty ugly fabrics, though in their heyday of the 70's or 80's, they were the best that was out there.  Before the big names we all know now were doing big business.  Before they bothered with fancy selvedges - or even dating them!  Back when fabric was actually 45" wide.

As I worked with each fabric, I cut what would make best use of the fabric and strayed from the original sizes listed in the request I found.  One of the volunteers indicated larger was okay and I expect these folks are no strangers to making things work, so I hope they will employ the same efforts used in catching these unfortunate kitties to get the hammocks to hang appropriately.

My two "pastel" rescues love each other very much.  Finn will let you scratch his face for the rest of eternity, grabbing your hands if you stop, so he was very pleased that big sister Gabby was in a mood to tidy things up.  This went on for quite a while and ate into my sewing time because I was trying to get a good photo of her with her tongue out!

Today, as I finished the last stitches, I realized I went from what pretty much filled my washing machine to this:

I supplemented a few long, skinny strips to make the hanging loops for a few, but on the whole my stash remained untouched for this batch.

And then I counted...

Thirty-one hammocks.

And in these last two photos, you can definitely spot the 70's and 80's fabrics.  (That top one is actually a Lori Holt print, dated 2013, but my mom didn't much like it, so into the pile it went!)

I sewed six hammocks each day I didn't work this week, except today, where I made seven.  Six seemed to be a good number that wasn't too much time, but also enough to make a dent in the stack of fabrics.

In addition to the hammocks, I of course made meals and cleaned things and read and all the other normal things one does in life.  My hubby may claim to have been feeling neglected, but he would have been planted in front of the television, playing a game on his phone, whether I had been upstairs sewing or sitting next to him.  The bonus of sewing was that I got to listen to what I wanted to listen to, not his sitcom of choice.

One night, though, we made a "run for the border"...

Toby was fascinated with the bubbles in my pop from Taco Bell.

I'm not sure what he thought was going on here, and this is definitely not the first time we've brought drive-thru food home since he came to live with us last September (until just a few weeks ago, that was about all we could get that wasn't cooked ourselves!), but that night he was fascinated.

I love his curious face.

As usual, Freddie has been camera shy this week.  And generally stubborn.  He gives loves when HE wants to give them, but don't you dare think you can take his picture.  How RUDE!  But he is still here, creating his own brand of derpy mayhem, usually with his tail puffed up as big as a raccoon while tearing through the house at top speeds and his eyes popped open as huge as can be.  We have no idea what he is chasing - or running from - but it is Serious Business.

Since the hammocks took all of my sewing time this week, there is no quilty business to report.  But with the stash of fabrics busted, I suppose I'll have to get back to the projects I abandoned a week ago.  Tomorrow I'm meeting with a guild friend to help her lay out a wedding quilt and then we'll head to lunch.  It is so nice to be able to do some normal things again, but it's still a little scary that so many people don't want to get vaccinated and I'm worried those folks are going to send us back into lockdown.  (99% of folks ending up in the hospital now are NOT vaccinated...that seems like ridiculously good odds for the vaccine!  But I'll stop there.  This blog is about quilting, not scientist Katie going on a rant about virology.)

Time to go plan the coming week.

Happy quilting!