Sunday, January 22, 2017


What a fun day yesterday was!

I took my bin of purples...

...and my newly washed and pressed background fabric...

(...that is chambray, I now remember...and washed up super nicely...)

...and all the necessary sewing utensils, plus snacks and went to my guild's sewing Saturday.

I had hoped to complete at least half of the 13 cats I wanted to make from the Cat Quilt pattern for this month's Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  (If you do 13 per month for 11 months, you'll have 143 - I want 144 for the finished quilt.  Month #12 is finishing month, so you'll hear me complain about long seams in December!)

The first cat went together so fast, it took less than an hour!

They finish 4x5" in this state, but I plan to sash with the grey so the finished quilt will be throw-size.

I was encouraged at the quickness and ease of the pattern and just kept sewing.  By 3pm, I had all 13 cats done...

...and a lot of scraps still left over...I think they might have multiplied while I dug through the bin?

I wasn't sure if the above photo would be good - I took it at the sew-in - and I wanted to have them all apart, so I layed then out on my sewing room floor this morning.  Skitter, one of my two black cats, one who rarely makes an appearance for anything but her dinner, decided to be helpful...

She's a beautiful, loving cat, but when we adopted her 13 years ago, all she did was hide under a couch for probably the first year.  It took about 6 years for me to be able to reach out and pet her and about 10 for me to be able to walk up to her and kiss her on the head.  She'll be friendly, but it's on her terms and if you breathe too loud, or sneeze, or move too quickly, she's gone.  Don't even think about picking her up!  Still, all these years later she's still this way - this cat has truly taught me patience.  She came to us with the name Skitter and it fits!

(And for all those of you saying 13 is unlucky - I also have two black cats and fear neither.)

In my scraps, there are a lot of skinny purple strips...

...these were sashings for another cat quilt I made years ago (no photo - at least not handy) and I cut just a few too many strips for sashing.  I've got an idea percolating how to use these in a dolly quilt because I'm sick of them and they're all wrinkly and too small for much of anything I usually would do.  But I have to laugh because this quilt was intended to be a twin-size and it turned out more queen-ish...and yet I STILL had too many sashing strips!  (If I can find a photo, perhaps I'll do a post about the quilt because there are some other fun memories popping up about this project.)

As I was sewing the cats, I knew my bobbin wasn't full to start with, so I kept wondering if I was going to run out.  I got all the cats sewn and still had bobbin thread left...I pulled it out and found this:

I don't think I could have sewn another cat with what was left on here - talk about good luck!  (See - 13 isn't always bad!)

With a few hours left, I pulled out project #2 - thrown in as what I thought would be an ambitious idea, but turns out I needed it!

Candy Bracelets!

I thought about what a few of you had said regarding those corners - the original had them in a light green, which I wasn't sold on.  I had thought of using grey, but wasn't convinced of that either.  Finally, I decided I would just use the same fabric as the center part of the block for the corners.  It seems a likely choice and while it will appear scrappy in the finished project, I don't think it was cause as much trouble for a final layout as if I did them random.

I got about a dozen or so blocks done - cutting each fabric and then sewing the corners.

They're not trimmed or pressed back in this photo, but I'll do that when all of the blocks have their corners.

I had to giggle, though, at one of my quilty friends.  She pulled out a book and stack of gorgeous fabrics and told me to come here, she thought I'd like this pattern and book.  Know what book she pulled out?  "Scrap-Basket Strips and Squares" - the book this project came from!  She was doing a different project, but I started giggling and went over to my bin still hiding this project and pulled out the book.  Great minds think alike!

By this time, most ladies had left and the few who hadn't gone yet were packing up, so I figured it was time for me to pack up, too.  And now here I am blogging instead of sewing - I think it's time I go fix that!

Happy quilting!

Friday, January 20, 2017

it's all your fault (when you read this, you'll know who you are)

It seems my quilty mojo is really back.  I can't get enough.  Last night - well, this morning - I woke up at 1:30 wanting to go sew on my newest project (more on that in a minute) and wondered if the approximately 4 hours of sleep I had gotten so far was enough to get me through Friday?  I could get up now and go sew?!

(I went back to sleep - sweet Emma snuggled up to me and purred me back into slumber.  Turns out that was a good thing after the day I had!)

I still don't have the Christmas Pickle to share.  It's in the same state it was a few days ago and then my thumb split open again tonight at dinner, so I'm Band-Aid Queen again tonight in the hopes it will heal fast and I can sew like the wind tomorrow at my guild's sewing Saturday.

But I did make a decision to start yet another project/challenge.

I've been seeing posts about this Rainbow Scrap Challenge for a few years now.  Apparently it's been going on since 2011, but I haven't known about it quite that long.  But it seems more and more of the blogs I follow are joining.  This year, the wheels started turning.  I have lots of scraps.  And if it's a controlled-color scrappy, I'm learning to be good with that.  But I wanted a goal...a project...something to motivate me to do more than January...

So I thought about it a while, determined to figure out a good way to commit or not commit at all.

And then it hit me...

I've got this pinned a couple of times - different photos - on Pinterest and it's been there a while.  I loved it the second I saw it, but wasn't really in my quilty place at the time.

This is PERFECT!

Scrappy.  Color-controlled.  And CATS!

For a day or two, I mulled over fabrics for the background.  I didn't really want white, though that would look good with bright colored cats.  Grey?  Maybe, but would it play well with ALL the colors?  I looked at the fabric the designer used and liked that...what I could see of it...

Off to one of the local quilt shops.  The owner was there (she's pretty cool and belongs to our guild, so I've gotten to know her some) and tried to help.  I wasn't doing a good job of explaining and while I was looking at fabrics that had a woven-like pattern printed on them, she was suggesting florals.  I finally had the brilliant idea to show her the quilt (well, duh!) and she walked right over to a section of fabric kinda hiding (but if you visit Mr. Buttons, the shop bunny/mascot, you'd probably see them - me? I'm a cat person) and found EXACTLY what I was looking for, though if I had to put it into words what I was looking for, I couldn't.  Probably part of my problem...

How perfect is this?  It's black with white woven in (reminds me of an oxford shirt weave), but reads as a grey from much of a distance.

I bought 4 yards - the rest of the bolt!

I already have my purple scraps ready to go to sew-in tomorrow, too:

(it looks like more than it is, I promise)

I can't wait.  I love starting new projects, but I don't remember the last time I was THIS excited to start a new project.  I mean, how often do you wake up in the middle of the night, contemplating losing 4 hours of sleep just to start a quilt?

So the new background is in the wash (I have this feeling it's going to shrink a bunch and would rather it do that before than after!) and while I was unfolding it to put it in, I saw this sticker:

I'm guessing this was at the start of the bolt so they knew which way to wind it, but I looked carefully at the "back" and "face" sides of the fabric before the whole piece went into the washer and cannot honestly tell you which is which.  So I suppose if nothing else, this sticker is good for a giggle.

And with that, I'm off.  I'm going to live it up this weekend because I already know Monday at work is going to be rough.  Long story short, some folks think they're more important than others.  So I'm going to have a good weekend in preparation!

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

progress on challenges!

As you may know, I'm participating in two challenges this year.  One is just mine (though guild members have joined me), the other is a blogger-driven project.  I've worked on both since my last post!

First is the self-challenge - one dolly quilt a month.  I had already started this one weeks ago and had the top finished before I went to retreat, but since I had to get my quilting stuff (and house stuff) together before I left for a long weekend, it had to wait until I returned.

The pink fabric is one that was in the bag of scraps I got at the UFO auction a few months back and it was screaming at me to be made into something.  (I pulled out all the screamers and set them on the cutting table - some of them made it into quilts that were donated for 2016, some will be with the 2017 bunch.)  I winged it with the pattern and think it turned out just fine!

It measures about 15x15".

The colors seem a little off, but I just snapped this and it's been a foggy day all day (never mind it's getting dark now) and I'm not sure the sun ever came up!  Bad for photos.

I quilted about 1/4" inside of each octagon.  After work and a few chores last night, I hiked upstairs to my sewing room and spray basted this little gem and it was screaming (this quilt sure is a screamer!) to be quilted that way.  Yes, that sounds great, says my brain.  The reality?  Lots of stopping and starting and burying threads.  But I like how it turned out, so it's all good.

And then, after another project I'll share in a minute, back downstairs to watch some Netflix and bind.  (Currently enjoying "Grace and Frankie" - my hubby calls it "the old lady show," which isn't terribly inaccurate, but enjoying it nonetheless.)

The other project?  The UFO challenge - Christmas Pickle!

Sunday, after much procrastinating, doodling and convincing myself to just quilt this darn quilt, I got up off the couch and dug in.

First up?  Piece the back.  Cut that one big piece into two equal lengths and seam along the selvedge.  That should be the right size, right?  That's usually how I buy backs...

Casually lay it out and see which way it definitely won't fit (this quilt is definitely a rectangle!) and load the back onto the longarm.  Lay the batting (relaxing since Friday, thankyouverymuch) over top and then lay the quilt on that.

Uh oh.

It's about 6 inches too short for the length.  (Thank goodness I loaded it sideways (fewer passes this way!), or I wouldn't have known until I was nearly done quilting it!

Reverse the whole process and ask the hubby to help me lay out the backing and quilt on the floor (after moving a few small pieces of furniture) to figure out exactly how much too small it was.  Thankfully, I could chop off 10" from the side and sew it to the top and it was all good.  But loading a quilt twice?  No thank you!

Ready to roll!

I had doodled for years on this (I even found some doodles I made one day at work - back when we had enough help and I sometimes had a little time to kill - that is not the case any more) and still hadn't come up with anything I really loved.  I'd searched the internet and finally settled on kind of an idea.  So I doodled more and then, with the aid of a thick black marker, realized there was a secondary pattern in there if you follow the largest of the red cores.  And it was done.

As you may or may not be able to determine, I was having some trouble with my doodles.  I could draw this one direction, but had a heck of a time reversing it.  Well, on paper, you can just turn your paper.  Doing that on a longarm?  MUCH more difficult!  So more doodles.

Finally, a deep breath, and off we go.  Not without a few hiccups, and I worry I didn't do the quilt justice with my quilting, but it's quilted.  And since I'm not much for ripping out a whole quilt, it's done.  Done is better than not done.

Here's a little tease.  I'm going to save the full reveal when I do the UFO challenge post when it's completely finished.

Then last night after finishing the dolly quilt machine sewing portion, I decided I would just keep sewing and put the binding on the Christmas Pickle - at least the machine half - since I already had it made and the walking foot on my machine and I was in the sewing room!

I think wrestling a finished quilt around to get the binding on is my least favorite part (followed very close behind by piecing backs!), but it's on and now just waiting for me and the kitties to settle in and do the hand-sewing portion.  It's a fairly good-sized throw quilt (I don't remember the dimensions off hand), so it will take a bit, but I've got a deadline and have decided that for the UFO challenge, binding is part of my challenge.  (Otherwise, who knows how many quilted but unbound quilts I'd have at the end of the year?!)

No sewing tonight - yet - but that's okay - it's early yet!  (And the hubby has been going to bed at 7pm lately, so I need quieter things to do after he goes to bed and this fits the bill - this and Netflix.  The kitties like it, too - extra layers of snuggly warm and mom sitting mostly still!)

I promise a full reveal soon!

Happy quilting,

Saturday, January 14, 2017

retreat recap

I have been thinking all week that I should go unpack my quilting stuff from retreat and take photos.  I didn't do it until today!

(To be fair, I was catching up at home and getting stuff done to advertise my guild's quilt show in March - must have flyers out early!)

Today I finally tackled the suitcase and was a good girl - I took one thing out at a time and put it away before taking out the next.  So my sewing room doesn't look much worse for it...perhaps it even looks better because I tidied up a few things as I went!

So let's do this in chronological order, shall we?

Thursday my ride arrived at 8:30am.  They laughed at me trying to wedge my suitcase behind the driver's seat in the car because that was the only space left.  Well, they were getting cold while I was doing it, so it wasn't all fun and games for them!  A few hours and 150 miles later we were there - reverse loading process, which went smoother getting it out than in.

My roomie didn't get to go - she was having some health issues and had a doc appointment Thursday afternoon.  I told her if she got a go-ahead to come up late.  Turns out she developed an awful cold on top of her health issues (which the doc said could be treated with meds, no worries - whew!) and decided to just stay home and save us all her germs.  So I had a room to myself.

Too bad because the elephant quilt debuted on my bed - no one to share it with!  (And I thought at least a few times I should take a photo, but did I?  Nope!)  Oh well, it will have another chance at my guild's show in a few months.

I wasted no time in getting my sewing stuff set up and digging into Project #1 - Arcadia Avenue blocks #5 and #6.  I had debated cutting more, but decided against it.  I kinda regretted that because I had both, yes both, done Friday night!

Here are blocks 1-6 - 6 on the left, 1 on the far right.

They're coming along nicely.  6 more to go.  I still don't like paper piecing, but being halfway done, I'm not going to quit.  It might take a while longer, but I'm going to finish these.  Having them at retreat was probably a good thing, though, because I forced myself to work on them.  At home I can find excuses to NOT sew them!

Friday, day two, I started on Project #2 - Brick Wall/Max & Whiskers jelly roll project.  I'd purchased some white-ish Grunge to do sashings.  I thought I had the right one (there are about 300 whites, I think), but after unrolling the jelly roll, I saw I had a slightly different one.  It wasn't too different (the little flecks of color in it were different, but the underlying color was the same), and I figured it was sashing, so it was all good.

Uh oh...project #2 completed before bedtime Friday!

Well, let me amend that.  The main part of the top is done.  The pattern calls for using the remaining parts of the jelly roll - enough for two 2.5" squares from each fabric - to be cut into squares and added as a border on the sides (top and bottom in this photo) with a grey border between them and the part you see here.

I'm not sold on that idea, so I have these bits left and I'm thinking on it.  No rush, I just should probably make a decision before I lose the extra pieces!

By this time, rumors of a new-ish quilt shop just a few miles from the retreat center were circulating and some gals had already been.  My group decided not to go with a group that ventured out earlier, but by this time not only was I getting low on projects, our driver was out.  O.U.T.  She sews fast, but holy cow!

Saturday after breakfast we headed to the new quilt shop.  My two friends both spent a lot more than I did, but the friend out of projects found something she truly wanted to make and the other friend bought a few different things, but left them in the car to avoid temptation - she was assembling the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt that just finished.  She was determined, but got all of the main blocks and sashings assembled - no small feat!

I didn't need anything (though I was a little concerned that my last project wouldn't last me two days), but found the pattern and ruler for the curvy log cabin.  While I know there are instructions for this online that don't require the ruler, this will (I hope!) make it easier for me.  I really do like what I've seen done with this ruler and the project is on my Pinterest/bucket list, so I bought it.

And I bought a few more pins.  Yes, those really do say $4.  I've not seen them that cheap anywhere and I've sewn over enough that I'm getting low on straight pins!

This quilt shop was really nice and had a lot of bright, modern fabrics and I really liked it.  If I'm up that way again, it will definitely be a stop!

Saturday mid-morning I started Project #3 - Candy Bracelets.  I thought I'd pressed all my fabrics.  I hadn't.  So iron something like 5 yards of white and carefully fold it.  Easier said than done, but much easier when it's not extra-wide (and I'm glad to hear some others of you have made this same mistake - I feel a lot better now, even if my fabric is still sketchily folded).  Iron each of my 27 fat quarters before cutting, too.  That made things take a lot longer, but I didn't mind other than the white.  I got to enjoy the fabrics a little extra this way.

But it turns out the pattern calls for 28 fabrics.  It's written with a layer cake in mind and I had fat quarters.  No big deal, I can cut pieces, but I had only 27 different fabrics.  And only one pink.  So I could either make double from the one pink or sew and sew and sew and get another pink when I got home.  I decided to wait.

I didn't get the blocks done Saturday.

I didn't get the blocks done Sunday before we had to leave either.  But I did get them mostly done.

From each fabric, you make two blocks.  Here they are with the strips sewn to the sides to make them square and not ironed.  This is where I left off Sunday before we packed it all up to come home (and the struggle with the suitcase was repeated...).  Turns out having that extra pink wasn't necessary...I didn't get anywhere near the top assembly step!

I stopped at my local quilt shop today and bought this one:

I think this one will do nicely - I put it next to the other pink and it's very similar in color and print, but different enough that I'm happy.  Her selection of pinks wasn't as diverse as I expected, but I found what I needed, so it doesn't matter.  If she'd had more, I'd probably have had trouble choosing which one, so it's all good.

But now I'm at a point where a decision has to be made.  These blocks get the corners lopped off again with the lost corner technique and when assembled, you end up with a square, on point, in the corners where blocks meet.  (see previous post for a photo - it's consistently light green in the original)

I thought about using grey and have a grey polka dot fabric.  What do you think?  Too modern for the 30's prints?  Too grey?  Too busy?  Perfect?

I don't want to hate it and have to unsew and redo I'm still thinking...suggestions welcome!

So that was my weekend.  Plus good food, good company and NOT being at work!

I think I've almost caught up from being gone (somehow I didn't want to come home and wash dishes and do laundry and grocery shop and clean the bathroom all at once, so I took my time - plus the quilt guild stuff took a bit of time) and now that I'm unpacked, I can go take a, wait,, no,!

(we'll see...)

Or maybe contemplate quilting my Christmas Pickle quilt some more?  (I keep hoping one of these mornings in the shower - where this always seems to happen - I'll just KNOW what it needs...)

Happy quilting,