Sunday, September 19, 2021

hammocks and block units

 Last week Monday, I put the last stitches in the cat hammocks made from ironing board covers!

After I had them all stacked up for a photo, I decided I should get out my ruler and see just how tall that leaning stack was.  A foot tall!  I tried to count and came up with 23, but I think there may be a few more than that?  They kept trying to fall over, so it wasn't easy to keep track of counting.  However many, it will make a difference in the lives of a few kitties!  I'm struggling to coordinate with my volunteer to get them delivered, but we both have busy lives, so it just takes time.

I'm glad to have them done, even if it was fun to work on them.  Because now I can focus on something else - the School Bus/new quilt!

First up was to sew 196 half square triangles.  A few extra from the graphic of last week, but remember I am straying from the pattern a bit and making a 7x7 layout instead of 6x8, which means one more block.

These took forever to trim, so I did a batch and then something else for a bit and then back for another batch.  I don't want to wear out my cutting arm!

Eventually, they were all done and off I went to find my googly eyes again...

This guy looks very Halloween-y, but the quilt is not.  I mean, yes, it has orange and black in it, but there is also turquoise and yellow.

Next up was strip piecing to make other units and then, being the organized quilter that I can be (I try!), I stacked them all up neatly so I could chain-sew.

And over the next days, I worked on sewing those units into rows - finishing that just before lunch today.

Next up will be sewing the rows into blocks.  There are actually two blocks in this quilt, but the other block is hiding under the first set of rows.  Eventually I'll get a photo where you can see both!

This morning, I cleaned the fridge.  And I mean pull everything out and wash the shelves and toss old stuff that was stuck in the back and then take everything off the top and scrub the outside, too, cleaned.  I figured with grocery shopping being due tomorrow, today was the emptiest it was going to be and my best time to clean.

Toby helped put stuff back neatly.

I had propped the door open to get everything put back and he just climbed right in.  He wasn't trying to get into the food (at least not yet) and was none to happy about being pulled out of there, but no way is letting him be in there safe!  Of course, this was AFTER I cleaned everything, but I'm pretty sure cat fur was bound to drift into there eventually anyways, so it's not like he did much damage!

From what I've just shared, it doesn't look like much of a productive week, but there were other housekeeping and life chores in there.  Never mind a few shifts at work!  But I won't bore you with those.

Well, except maybe that Gabby had her teeth cleaned last week and four were removed.  She has a fairly rare dental disease, so we need to stay on top of that, but once the anesthesia wore off, she seemed to be doing well and knows the sound of the pill bottle means a Churu treat, so she comes running!

And with that, I'm off to decide how to spend a few more hours before the hubby gets up.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, September 12, 2021

a top, a new start and more!

Last week I left you with pieces cut for the second Valle Crucis quilt.  I got busy and sewed up another 192 (not 196 as I may have reported previously) half square triangles.  Such a drag, and the trimming takes For. Ever.  But I decided to pop a movie in and set up a trimming station to work while I watched.

This guy is much more colorful than the other one, though the colors are a bit washed out here.  I struggled to get a good photo, what with all the windows downstairs.  (Really not a bad thing most of the time!)

It took more than the movie to get them all done, but I kept cutting after it ended, determined to finish.  My wrist was hurting and I hoped that would not last.  (It didn't.)  But I wanted to get on with this quilt.

The next part was fun - matching up fabrics for blocks.  Having three colors, I wanted to make sure things were mixed up well and then I placed all the pieces in stacks so I could chain-sew easily.  And chain-sew I did!

None of these photos seem to be doing much good with all of the colors, but I promise a good one is coming...

Once these were done, I figured I would just go ahead and lay them out.  Since the black is shedding horribly and the carpet in my sewing room is off-white and I had JUST run the vacuum, I decided to use the design floor downstairs - where the carpet is blue-ish.  It will show less.

Toby decided he needed to take a bath.  In the middle of things.  He wasn't helping as much as some of the other cats like to do, he was just angry with me for having excluded him in the process for a while.  (He is not allowed in the sewing room, as that is where Gabby hangs out during the day - door closed to keep him from stalking and attacking her.  Still.)

But this photo does a very good job of catching the actual colors.  So I guess he knew what he was doing all along?

Eventually I did get all of the blocks placed and a photo, though I had to snap quick because it seemed all the boys wanted to help at that point...

Things look random enough here, though it seems the more colors and fabrics you add, the harder random gets.  It makes no sense in my head, but seems to play out that way every time.  Or maybe I'm just not good at random?

Anyways, back up to the sewing room for sashing and a border and then I had another top!

The sunshine is making a spot near the bottom here, but even with a poor color quality, you can see it is a whole top and that's what I'm going for.

Next up will be to quilt these two, but I need to figure out backs first.  Soon.  The timeline on this quilt along isn't hugely long, but that's okay.  I'm only about 3 weeks ahead...

While I was trimming the half square triangles, Finn kept himself entertained...

...somehow he got the pumpkin to flip itself over, off the cardboard scratcher.  It's not attached and he is a clumsy oaf (a cute, loveable one), but I looked over because I heard not-right scratching noises.  He just looked at me like "oh, hi!" and went back to whatever he was doing.  I put it back together when he was done, but I expect this to continue if he can remember how.

Since these two are tops, I won the right to start something else new!  The School Bus quilt!  The fabric had been purchased, washed and folded neatly and was just waiting for me.  So Friday, I started cutting.

And promptly realized my background (black) fabric is directional.  I mean, I knew it was, but didn't really think about it in the store.  So I stopped cutting and waited until I had more time to decide if I want to worry about it, and if I do, figure out new cutting instructions to make sure it all works out nicely.

Today was the day!  I decided to go with cutting fussily and making everything go one direction.  I also decided the 6x8 layout, with two different blocks, meaning the four corners did not all have the same block, was going to bug me, so I'm going to do a 7x7 layout, meaning only one more block, but allowing it to be symmetrical.

So I cut.  The cutting didn't seem to take long, so I'm hoping I didn't miss anything.  I didn't cut the sashing and borders yet, as those will also need some attention to direction detail, and I just wanted to get going on sewing!

But I had to groan when I saw this "quick guide" page in the book that told me number of units and blocks and whatnot.  (I didn't find it entirely useful, but I'm sure some do.)  This is part of that image:

Remember how many half square triangles are in the Valle Crucis quilt?  And I made two of those.  Ugh.  Not ANOTHER one!

This is as far as I got today.  I may go back to sewing after I'm done blogging, or not.  I have a few other chores I probably should do and since the hubby is at a football game for a bit longer, I should probably make the best of my time.  Though doing what is a good question - sewing by myself is just as good as ignoring him for chores, right?  (But with chores, I don't have any critics around...!)

I'm still sewing away on cat hammocks, making three every day I'm not at work as a start up to my sewing day.  It's kinda like a warmup to a work out where I think about what I'll be doing next.  Today it was pondering the directional nature of my background fabric and how I wanted to handle it.

Sometimes I get to play thread chicken...

...and sometimes I win!

(I actually have another, larger, spool of the same color (because apparently I buy thread without even realizing what I have?), so it wasn't a big deal, but it was nice to not have to stop in the middle somewhere.

(And I'm realizing my machine is a bit dusty, so I guess I need to do something about that...but anyone who sews a lot knows how this happens very quickly, so don't think I'm a bad housekeeper.  I mean, I might not be all that great, but don't judge me on this alone!)

I think I have enough of the ironing board covers for two more hammocks, which works out perfectly, as I'll get those done tomorrow and have them all finished to meet up with my volunteer on Tuesday - her coming in to my work while I'm there has been working out nicely.

But I have a bunch of D-shaped ends from the covers that I could probably get 10" or 12" squares out of, so I'm debating if I should make some crate mats with those.  I'll chat with my volunteer about sizes and needs and go from there.  If it's going to be a waste of my time, I'll skip it.

Time to get some chores done so I can continue to play.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, September 5, 2021

a LOT of sewing and positivity finish

Last week I shared a lot of new fabrics.  Or pulls of fabrics from the stash for new projects at least.

This week I have lots of sewing to share, though the week got off to a bit of a slower start.

On Monday, I got a message from my cat rescue group contact letting me know she had some "scrap muslin" that had been donated and would I like to make more hammocks.  While I cringed a little at the term "scrap muslin," knowing there is a HUGE variety in quality of that material, I decided I would go for it and, worst case, once I saw it, turn it down.

What she actually had was ironing board covers.  Someone had bought a whole pile of them at an auction and it turns out they are Canadian and shaped very differently from American covers.  While I'm not sure if our boards are that different, and wonder if maybe these are just older, they are definitely not shaped like any ironing board I've ever seen.

And the quality?  They are about the weight of lightweight denim, but they washed up beautifully.

This is part of the pile, on the floor in my back room.  It took THREE loads in my large washing machine to get them all through.  But any quilter knows the value of prewashing, so I kept at it.  And laundry is fairly passive anyways.

When it was all done, I had about 50 covers.  (I may or may not have lost count somewhere in the middle.)  And a request for an official tutorial for the group to share.  So I started with one, taking photos as I went, and then wrote a draft.  After a friend proofread for me, I awaited an answer to my most important question - desired sizes - to add to the final draft.  

That meant I could do something different for a bit.  I started cutting (early!) for the Valle Crucis quilt along!

The quilt along actually started Friday, but I was so excited.  A day or two early won't hurt, right?

I decided to make 12 blocks instead of the 9 indicated for this quilt, and make the blocks a bit smaller.  Since the finished product is going to Quilts for Kids, and I vaguely remembered size ranges requested, I checked that out.  I think a smaller block in a 3x4 configuration will work nicely for them.  Not that the larger blocks in a 9x9 setting is bad, just different.  And anyone who has been reading about my quilting adventures for any length of time knows I don't just do patterns as written.  More often than not I'm making it bigger or smaller or making my flying geese or half square triangles differently or something.  Nothing new here!

Since I was still waiting, and I needed 196 half square triangles, might as well start sewing those, right?

I pressed them and called it a night.  Lots of trimming was in my future, but I had decided to lay out block parts in formation and trim as I needed them.  That meant 12 at a time instead of 196.  It was still tedious, but broke it up nicely.

(And my cousin who gave me these googley eyes - best idea ever!)

I kept sewing and sewing and then I had blocks (a few days later)...

I've come this far and the hubby was out seeing a movie with some nieces and nephews, so I'll keep sewing until he comes home and demands (haha!) dinner.  And would you believe that as I was heading out to take this photo, he pulled in the driveway?

There are two different pinks, but one blue, in the quilt.  And I even made the binding (from the blue) before I was done!  Of course now I have to quilt it, but since the quilt along goes for another few weeks (and that only gets us to the top being done), I've got time.  You know I'll use it!

Somewhere along in here I realized it was the first of the month and time to clean my machine.  Being less than a month old, I didn't expect much, but wow!

I pulled out this:

I'm sure there was more that just wafted off into the air, but wow!  (Bobbin is there for size comparison.)  And it had already developed some felt pads, which I don't see too often.  Perhaps, being new, it was a bit oily in there and it caught more than a normal amount of fuzz, but that's okay.  I'd rather get it out than have a mess later.

By this time, my contact had found time (I think she works full time in addition to caring for kitties in need, so I'm cutting her a lot of slack on time she takes for fairly unnecessary things like measuring hammocks) to measure the hammocks and let me know sizes.  I updated my document, emailed a "final" draft to her and proceeded to make hammocks with the remaining about 48 covers.  (Due to size and shape, it takes two covers to make the larger hammocks she prefers.)

I've found it best to lay two together on the floor, right sides together, to prep for cutting.  Gabby obviously needed to inspect.  Or help.  Or complain that I wasn't paying her enough attention.

Freddie, the kitty who put me in contact with the rescue group (he was one of their rescues needing a forever home almost two years ago), decided he needed to help smooth things out.

Finn would like you to know that he also helped, but earlier in the process.  While I was a few feet away unfolding covers and putting them in the washing machine, he climbed up on a shelf and into a box that holds books I've read while they wait to be donated back for the local book sale.

Helped indeed.

I've made three hammocks each of the two days I haven't worked since getting the measurements.  So that brings me to seven.  Many more to go, but my new machine, now that I have a correct needle in it, is chewing through this like nothing.  When going over the loops, I'm sewing through 12 layers of fabric and it isn't blinking an eye.  Hooray!

It may be hard to see here, but since the fabric is B-O-R-I-N-G, I'm using fun colors of thread.  Turquoise, green, purple...  It started out as using up some spools that were nearly gone, but now I'm just having fun.

Once I finish a set of hammocks, I'm allowed to do quilty fun sewing.  (Not that the hammocks aren't fun, but if I do too many, I'll burn myself out and no one wants that!)

Today that fun is cutting a second Valle Crucis quilt.  You saw these fabrics before, and they're a pull from my stash.  I'll mix and match the colors for a scrappier version than the last one, but this is as far as I got today, as I had a few edits (and new photos) for the cat hammock tutorial, and that, since others are waiting for it, is more important.  After blogging, maybe I'll head back up and sew?  (Even if I dread the idea of another 196 half square triangles...)

I also need to mention that I actually finished my Positivity quilt and mailed it out earlier this week.

It probably should get its own post, but for posterity, I'm putting it here, because who knows if I'll actually get that written?

Here you can see the quilting better and the back.  When I saw that back, I was done shopping.  I can't explain why, but it is perfect.

Just a few minutes ago, I realized I should probably pull some sticks for September, even if it is just to ignore them...

The string blocks...I intended that one to decide if I'm going to make more or give them away.  I think I'll give what I have away.  I just need to find a willing participant!  The remainder?  We'll see...

And one last thing to share.  I found a new podcast that, so far, I like.  It came to me in an odd manner - the virology podcast I enjoy had a listener letter mention this - but since this is a literature-based podcast aimed at crafters whose hands are busy, it seems an unlikely match, but there it is. is from a gal who knits and loves books.  She does a bit of chatting at the start, about the book, her family, her life, whatever, and then you listen to part of an audiobook.  After, there is a bit more chatting.  I've only listened to one book ("The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde" - I had not read it before), but I enjoyed it.  I wasn't sure if audiobooks would work for me, wondering if my attention would scatter, but it is broken up into shorter stretches, with some historical context and whatnot sprinkled in, so it was actually a good format for me.  I'll be listening to other episodes in the future.  They're nice if you'll be sitting and sewing, say, a whole quilt top in one afternoon...

Can you believe that all happened in a week?  AND I baked goodies for work, worked two shifts, slept, cooked meals, washed dishes, did real laundry (not just fabric for sewing) and slept AND read a real book, too?  The kitties were not neglected either, just in case you were worried.

I guess I'm back to normal!

Happy quilting, 

Sunday, August 29, 2021

so much all at once!

I feel like I have a lot of balls in the air all of a sudden.  I guess feeling poorly for a week has jump-started my desire to do things now that I'm feeling better?  (I still have upcoming doctor appointments - at the very least I will have established a communication with them if the problems come back.)

To start, tiny stars!  I sewed a lot of rows this week and am almost halfway done sewing rows together.

Two more were completed after this photo, but you get the idea.  I thought I would get to sew yesterday, but life intervened.  And some of the things were more fun than others.  The funnest was a visit to JoAnn Fabrics.  I realized all of their Keepsake calicos were on sale for quite a good price (particularly considering I ALWAYS like the most expensive choices on the shelf the best!) and I decided it was time to get fabrics and get started on a graduation quilt for my brother's youngest daughter - a senior this year.

You may remember in past years that the oldest daughter, Jade, got a Dr. Who quilt.  (She is also the niece that had a baby a few months back and also got a quilt for little Matthias.)  Then a few years later, middle child Alli, got a graduation quilt as well.  So of course I couldn't leave out the youngest.  She is very into horses and actually works at a stable near home as part of her high school curriculum and plans to continue on there after graduation in an internship program that will certify her to work with veterans using horse therapy!  Pretty cool job if you ask me, even if you have to start out mucking stalls.  So when I saw this pattern a few years back, I saved it, hoping she would still be into horses, because it is pretty cool.  (I plan to do the option with just horses.)

I haven't purchased the pattern yet, and therefore have no idea if has specific yardage requirements for the option I'm choosing or not.  But that's okay, I'll just buy some fabric and it will be fine.

I'm not much of a horse person, so I had to snag a photo from the internet to help me decide on colors.  The golds may be a bit too much, but I'll see how things go.  I didn't want cutesy florals much, so I tried for more organic kinds of patterns.  And the dots - that's a pinto, right?!

I had originally planned to use this turquoise in an upcoming quilt-along (more on that in a minute), but decided it would be a nice background and color pop for the horses!

And while I was there - getting such a bargain - I decided that I would, after all, start the quilt for myself that I debated about from my sticks last month.  (We're not talking about sticks much any more, okay?  I warned you I might burn out and I kinda did...)

Originally the plan was to work from my stash for some of the fabrics, but I just decided to have some fun.  I haven't bought fabric for a whole new quilt in quite a while, so it just seemed like a good idea.

The fabric in the bottom of the photo will be the back of the quilt.  I fell in love with it and it is so soft, it just had to happen.

What quilt is it?  It's called "School Bus" and comes from the book Country Girl Modern.  I've had the book for a while and this quilt called to me and helped convince me to buy it.  The pattern also calls for off-white cornerstones, but I couldn't see that here.  I'll construct the blocks and see how things look at that point.  I have enough stash that light colored cornerstones should be do-able without another trip to the store.

The original was done fairly scrappy with the orange and turquoise, but I opted for just one fabric.  For now...

I mentioned I pilfered the turquoise from the Valle Crucis quilt-along pull - well, one of them...originally I had this:

While I liked it, that turquoise for a background just didn't sit well with me.  (The pink on the bottom was to be the back and that may change now, too.)  So I started looking and found something perfect at my local quilt shop!  (I'll shop for quilt fabric anywhere!)

I think this is beyond perfect.  And just about exactly what I was hoping to find.  (Which I am happy for since JoAnn's had nothing remotely like it when I was there later in the day.)

This quilt-along starts next week and that is another pattern I need to obtain.  Guess I know where I'll be headed after I finish blogging!  I expect I'll be making two of these quilts, as I have another pull with different fabrics also ready.  They're small, and I'm crazy, so it should be just fine.

Also while out shopping...  Friday I was in a nearby town that also has a quilt shop and I started my search for the alternate background there.  I hadn't been there in a while, and was actually in town on a day and time they are open, so I popped in.  I (obviously based on the above story) didn't find any background fabric, but I found this:

My holiday-themed mask making started in earnest around Christmas last year, so I don't really have much for Halloween.  And these look so much like my little boy Freddie, how could I not buy a piece to make masks?  (Masks have been reinstated as mandatory for employees at my work - something I expected when they told us we could take them off months ago - way before the delta variant was being thrown to the masses as a why not continue to look cute and maybe make a few customers smile?!)

Don't you fear, though, mask fabric purchases did not stop there!

You may remember some black and white cartoon dog masks I made for my boss.  When I saw these dogs, I immediately thought of her and figured if I'm making one for me with the cats, another with the dogs for her isn't that much more trouble.

The Lions fabric is a whole other story.  The hubby's management team at work has planned an outing to a Lions game in September.  Spouses aren't invited.  Hourly employees aren't invited.  It's a very exclusive event, apparently.  (Lack of spouses may be a foolish idea since there is a party bus taking them to and from the they get home after the party bus drops them off in the parking lot at work, inevitably inebriated, I suppose is not worth the company's time?  A spouse helps make sure someone will be smart about choices...or more likely this time, I'll be driving half a dozen drunk guys home because they're afraid to call their own wives...)

Anyways, the hubby has not approved the idea yet, but I expect there will be some amount of masking necessary, even if it is just outside the box I think they've rented for the night.  And I thought it might be fun if there were coordinated masks to hand out - like party favors?  The yard I purchased should yield 16 masks, and when you get going assembly line-style, they don't take THAT long.  But this is an idea I'll need to ponder a bit over the coming days, as the hubby is sometimes wierd about this sort of thing.  (I get it - I am too.)

Also in my travels, I picked up some wool for my mom.  She had surgery on both knees a few weeks ago (in hindsight, she realizes that was a bad idea) and then pushed herself to get back to normal movement too soon.  Now her doc has put her basically on bedrest, so she is blowing through hand-stitching projects while watching TV on the couch.  She has been doing a wool applique project and, no surprise, ran out of some colors.  The need for gold is what prompted the visit to the black cat fabric quilt shop and then she needed greens, too, so I went to the one closer to home.  No photos of the wools, sorry, but I also put together a goodie bag with puzzle books from the dollar store, fun colored pens, magazines and whatnot and I found this super cool pin magnet:

I found it at Wal-Mart (but you can see the brand there and likely get it elsewhere) and was excited.  It has a suction cup on the back.  She likes to hand-stitch while they travel and since my dad does all of the driving (he doesn't trust her to pull a camper and neither do I!), I thought this would be awesome to stick to the window next to her!  Usually she has pins and needles stuck in the viser above her head, but this is so much cooler and she can pop it off and take it with her much more easily.

(I might also have bought one for myself to stick to my machine or whatever - no sewing in the car for me, I get carsick just thinking about it!)

Apparently this week has been a week of shopping, as the kitties also got some new goodies!

Aiming to give Toby something to help his hunting instinct, I found this Ambush toy at Chewy and ordered it.  He loves it!  I wasn't sure about the amount of noise or if he would like it, but he loves it. It has a little feather that pops out randomly and he waits until it pauses (it does some quick and some slow poke-outs) and snags it and then drags it across the room, backing up as he goes.  It works upside down as well as right side up (though it is louder upside down) and isn't all that noisy.  It times out after 10 minutes and then he looks at you with this pathetic face until you get up and push the button again.  Worth every single penny!  (Gabby likes it, too.)

And Finn loves cardboard scratchers, so when you're trying to make that mark to get free shipping (on an order that started out as needing water fountain filters only), you get him something too.  He looks a bit worried here, but does seem to like it.

Freddie got a trip to the vet this week for his yearly check up and vaccinations.  He was a little sleepy for about 24 hours after, but if I compare that to MY last vaccination in mid-April that had me down for the count for about 4 days, he is doing just fine.  (And he is back to his usual self, trying to trip and kill me and then be offended that I want to pet him once he has been acknowledged...)

Gabby didn't get anything special, but she's had her turn, too, in the recent past with the Churu snacks and a rainbow unicorn...they all get new stuff every so often.  But as soon as I am done typing here, she has requested my snuggles in "her" room and I will start reading a new book.

Later maybe I'll find time to sew some tiny stars?

Happy quilting!

PS JoAnn's puts a savings total at the bottom of your receipt.  I spent $103, I saved $101.  And I had a $50 gift card, so I left with YARDS of fabric for only $53.  I always love it when I save so much - and if not for the Lions fabric (not on a very good sale), I probably would have saved more than I spent!  Yay me!