Tuesday, July 9, 2019

sewing merrily along

...or is that frantically?!

Where to start...

The 100 blocks in 100 days challenge is going well.  I've kept up - actually a few days ago I sewed ahead because I knew things were going to get tight.  But as of today, I'm just caught up, so tomorrow I will need to sew more blocks.  Let's see them - last I shared I had made just one block!

Blocks 2 through 9, with some bonus projects - tiny stars and a little pincushion made from bonus half square triangles.  The tiny stars have made a reappearance as leader-enders for the 100 blocks and it feels good to be working on them again.

I also am caught up and only need to make one book per day.  I'm more than halfway done, but have also employed the working ahead technique here in the last week.  But, as with the 100 blocks, I am currently just caught up, so tomorrow I will be sewing at least one of these as well!

This puts me at 30 blocks.  For the quilt I will need 56.  So I'm getting there, but having so much fun, maybe I'll make a bigger quilt?  (Ha ha ha ha! Nope.)

Part of the reason for working ahead was knowing I need to get the baby quilt quilted.  I knew the quilting and hand-binding would take a chunk of time and, planning ahead, I chose yesterday.  It was a cool morning (below 60!) and the heat of the day only took us to about 82.  So I got up early and got busy quilting...

And I got all the way to here before the second bobbin ran out.  Oh so frustrating!

It's hard to see here, but I just did overall swirls in varying sizes.  That's my default and I feel kinda bad, but I wanted something quick and easy and this was it.  Also, this quilt had some poofiness that needed to be quilted out, and swirls can do that nicely.  It wasn't bad, but enough.  It looks just fine now.

After this was done, I trimmed it and sewed the binding on.  I spent a good chunk of the evening hand-sewing down the binding and now all it needs is a label.  Since I hadn't thought to make that ahead, it still isn't done, but the shower is still almost two weeks away.  I can do that!  I'll share a final reveal after it's been given.

In addition to longarming, I needed to be sure to plan around my work schedule.  It's not a lot, but it does take up an 8+ hour chunk of my day when I go in!

Saturday we had two of these little guys (or gals?) visit in the breakroom while I was eating lunch.  A coworker and I caught and liberated them to the field behind the building.  That's not a chipmunk.  It's a 13-stripe ground squirrel.  But basically the same thing.  I'm so glad I work with folks who would rather catch and release these guys than kill them.  It just seems mean.  I mean, we have this whole store full of shelter and good eats, so why wouldn't they want to come in?!

I also visited family on the 4th and celebrated with steaks and other good food.  And there was the annual book sale, of course.  I still haven't read books from a year or two ago (but I am making a good effort to put the phone down and read and the stack is getting a little bit smaller already), but when they're $1 for a paperback and $2 for a hardcover, who can say no?  Plus, it goes to the Friends of the Library group and they do all sorts of worthy programs.

I didn't go as crazy as usual, but I knew I had a lot at home still, so I tried to keep it under control.  I hope by this time next year these are all gone, as well as most of the other stack.  This hot weather is a good excuse to sit down in front of a fan with a book, right?

But all of these 1 block per day challenges have proven to be less than challenging.  I mean, I do work ahead, but sitting down to make two blocks is kind of a tease.  I feel like I should be doing more.  So I decided to join another quilt along.  I know.  Roll your eyes.  This one is based around a jelly roll and makes a pretty cool quilt.  And I have a jelly roll that I'm clueless how to use, so I figured this would be a great excuse!

The quilt along is the Jelly Roll Waves pattern from Busy Hands Quilts and is hosted at her blog.  I haven't gotten further than opening up the jelly roll, counting how many strips of each color I have (why do I have 14 green and only 5 of orange and 5 blue?), and pulling a chunk of white from my stash that should be adequate.

Tonight, I think I will start cutting.  I'm still debating how I want this to go...I'd like to do rainbow order, but for the number of blocks I'm making, I don't have enough strips of all the colors.  And I'm not sure I want to supplement from my stash because that means I'll have more strips left over than if I didn't supplement.  And I kinda just want this used up.  I like it, but I'm just not a big fan of random strips hanging out in my stash.

So there you go.  All caught up.

Tomorrow I will be sewing ahead on the block-a-day challenges, as I have some upcoming events that may not allow me to be in my sewing room for a few days again.  And I'd like to be prepared.  But tonight is a free night now that I've worked a shift and done my chores.  Dinner will happen next and, if I'm not too tired to focus properly, sewing will commence.

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

alli's graduation quilt

I forgot to take a photo of the finished quilt.  Then I forgot to blog about it.

Getting old is hard!

But seriously.

My brother's middle child graduated high school this year.  I knew I wanted to make her a quilt.  I had made one for her sister for graduation a few years back, so I also needed to make her a quilt.  You know, fairness and all that!

I started much earlier this time.  Jade's quilt I finished in a few weeks.  (Maybe less?!)  I wanted to be more prepared this time.  I had seen a quilt on Pinterest that was crosses that tesselated into each other, but no pattern.  So I drew one.  And took no photos of that either.  (And honestly, I still have the sketch, but my method of getting photos off my phone is via Facebook and that is not playing nice at all today, so you'll just have to imagine me sketching things.)

I went shopping for fabric.  I had this grand plan of jewel tone fabrics.  I found none.  Well, okay, some.  But I needed like 5 and I found like 2.  Maybe.  Apparently that is not the plan for colors this year.

I ended up not using the grey, as you'll see.

I cut and cut and cut pieces, according to my kinda-calculations, and took this with me to a retreat in January.  I decided against even trying to make this since it would require the ENTIRE thing to be layed out before I could piece it.  That would take a lot of time and a lot of space and I just wasn't sure this retreat was the place to do that.

So I did it at home a few weeks later.

Emma helped, of course.

Freddie also helped.  (Look how tiny he was!  He's as big as Emma now and I think he's still growing!)

Finally, after much effort and some less than helpful comments from the Peanut Gallery (also known as my husband), I had things randomly placed enough that all the crosses were surrounded by other colors.

This took a LOT of labels to make sure each column was ready to go.  I was afraid something would go terribly wrong (as it could easily do with all those pieces), but there was nothing to do but start sewing.

(You can kinda see my sketch under the stack there...)

As I sewed, I draped the strips over my ironing board, just to see that everything was coming together properly.  I'm not sure if I would have caught a mistake this way, but I'm sure it helped.

(Obviously Lexie was helping here, though you can just see her toes!)

Thankfully, the whole quilt went together without a hitch.  There were even very few seams to match, but that was also came with a learning curve.  Usually the seams that match are regular and even and expected.  These were much  more randomly placed.  Well, not actually random, but it seemed that way compared to most quilts I've constructed!

Finally I had a top!

I took a few photos while I was quilting, but mostly because Freddie was being so cute.  Of course, black cats are hard to photograph and make them look less than evil, but here we go anyways...

You can see, behind Freddie, the hearts I quilted into the quilt...just a little bit.  He was so tiny here still that getting on the quilt didn't cause much trouble.  No lumps like the Twirly quilt.  Of course, this quilt didn't sit on the frame three days either.  I quilted it in just one day.

I'm not sure what he was thinking here, but it sure looks like trouble.

Both of those photos are also the best I have for the back photo.  I do have more of that upstairs, but I'm tired and it's hot and I'm just gonna use those for acceptable excuses tonight.

In April, my dad requested me to hang out with him while he was recovering from that nasty crap that went around for months.  My mom was away and he was wary of his inhaler and so I went to spend a few nights with him.  What better thing to take along than a quilt that needed binding?

My baby sister, Shandy (one of my parents two cats), helped.  Obviously.  She burrowed right under and snuggled up to me.  It took a while for her to decide this new person in her house was okay, but once she did, we were friends again.  (I helped rescue her and get her to my parents many years ago, but since I don't see her all the time, I'm a stranger.)

Finally, my niece graduated a few weeks back and her open house was weekend before last.  I forgot to get a photo of the finished quilt and the photo my mom took of her opening it was basically her with the bag.  Apparently the idea of her HOLDING the quilt was lost on her?  Oh well, she loved it and was excited about it, and that's all that matters.

In other, more recent, news, the books continue to be constructed, despite the heat.

Books 22-24.  And I'm caught up.  I made the last one early this morning, but not soon enough to get it onto Instagram before it and Facebook took a vacation.  For some folks.  Apparently not everyone, as my hubby is just fine.  Do you know how annoying that is?  We were using the same wi-fi, just different phones and different accounts.  His loads just fine.  Mine is like "oh, try again"...which is as good as banging your head into a wall because it does nothing.  I know the folks who do the fixing know, but it's still annoying.  That's how these blocks are being shared and I'm enjoying seeing them all.  Oh well.  Just goes to show you how dependent on that stupid phone I've gotten.

Instead of worrying about it, I worked on the baby quilt!

Freddie helped, of course.  And looks angry while doing it.  He was super squirelley at this point, trying to lay on whatever he thought I was using.  He went from block piles to the book to my notebook to blocks on the floor to empty spaces on the floor.  (He figured out the places on the floor that were still carpet only would get fabric, so he would get attention.  It worked.)

See.  Still angry.  But not at all angry.  But look how BIG he is!  Those rectangular blocks are 12.5".  He's a big boy.  Healthy, crazy, loving big boy.

Eventually I got all the blocks placed and he lost interest.  Some of the blocks needed to be cut in half.  Others needed borders before they were ready to go...or be cut in half or quarters, as this pattern is a little wacky.

I got all the sewing and cutting done and finally was able to pick up labelled rows.

And decided why not just sew it together?!  The shower is a few weeks away, but I've got nothing better to do and it's not going to get any cooler in the coming weeks, so if I'm already acclimated to the hot sewing room, why not just keep going!

Before I knew it, I had a whole top!

It's fairly still outside today, though there is a gentle breeze (which felt rather nice in the shade).  Not enough to keep me from getting a decent photo of the quilt, so I'm happy.

That darker blue really sticks out in the picture, but I think it looks less stark in person.  And I am NOT taking it apart!

I've pieced the back and made the binding, so all that's left is to quilt it!  Not today, though.  It's getting late and I want to try to do that earlier in the day, before the house is too hot.

The pattern (and book it came from) aren't handy, but I will be sure to share when I finish the quilt.  But it is AWFUL.  I hate to say that because I know someone worked very hard on it, but there were so many mistakes...

And one last photo...

I bought a new iron.  This one is incontinent and spits.  I didn't realize it spit until I was using it while wearing shorts and had hot water spit onto my legs and feet.  That isn't okay.  But it works fine otherwise, so I decided it could continue to hang out with me, but be a dry iron.  Which works out fine, since I can't turn the steam off on either it or the replacement iron (unless you turn the temperature down, but then it's a game whether it will try to steam and spit or not...) and when doing paper piecing, you really don't want steam.  So...win-win?!

Time to go figure out dinner...

Happy quilting,

Monday, July 1, 2019

so much sewing!

It's been a marathon in the sewing room the last few days.

First, there was the catching up on book blocks.
Then there was the baby quilt that I decided to make after all.
And finally, starting the 100 blocks in 100 days challenge!

I think I mentioned before, with the book blocks, if I had made one per day during the quilt-along, it would be just right for my calculations for the size of quilt I want.  But I started a few weeks late, so I had a few extra books to make to catch up.

No worries, I have like 5 days before the other quilt-along starts that also needs me to make a block a day.  I can catch up.  I had 10 done at my last post.  I got faster (I think?) and made 11 more to catch up!

So many memories making these blocks - where the fabrics for the book covers and bindings came from.  Scrap quilts are always a fun walk down memory lane, but ones that focus on one fabric (or two) at a time, are even better to me!  Some of the fabrics I'd forgotten I have.  Some I realized belatedly that there would be little contrast.  But I'm learning to be more careful in my choices.

I haven't made the block for today, but that's because I was trying to get my iron dried out.  I dropped it a few months ago and I must have cracked something inside because it is SUPER incontinent.  And that wasn't too bad until I realized, while ironing in shorts, that it is spitting hot water out the back.  Onto my bare legs and feet.  That is NOT acceptable.  Thankfully, it's only an $18 iron, so I just purchased a new one.  I will now have a dry iron (suitable for paper piecing and such) - the old, spitty one - and a steamy iron - the new one.  But I'm going to have to label them because they look very much alike!  (Also, just in case anyone sews with me, it would be nice if they were warned!)

The iron was running dry with the book blocks (paper pieced), but I would have wanted steam for the 100 blocks project.  But I put water in there sooner.  Because on Friday I got a text from a former coworker.  Another former coworker is pregnant.  I've known this for a while, and debated making her a baby quilt.  I talked myself out of it because our friendship has been limited to social media posting and figured it might be weird.  Well.  There is a baby shower being planned and I am invited.  This means I can make a quilt!  (Which I wanted to before, but talked myself out of it!)

So I looked through Pinterest and found nothing.  That is usually a dangerous place, but I seriously found nothing that seemed like this gal at all.  So I started digging through books.  And I found something!  For once, my stash of quilt books paid off.

Sort of.

The pattern has lots of problems.  First off, there is no photo of the entire quilt.  So all the units it tells you to make are kind of a mystery where they go.  I drew out the block (which is large and made of many units) and figured out borders based on the slouchy-hanging-from-a-ladder photo in the book.  And decided to make it smaller(ish) and figured out how many units of what and then cutting directions for myself from there.  And that was when I realized the book had some SERIOUS problems.  Like telling you to cut pieces 1/2"x12 1/2", which you are later instructed to use as 2 1/2"x12 1/2" strips that should actually be 2 1/4" strips.  And it calls for almost 2 yards of a fabric that you literally need like 2/3 of a yard of, even making the full quilt.

But, because I know what I'm doing, and because I decided to make the quilt smaller and make my own cutting list, I'm okay.

Whew...that was a long ways without a photo!  Let's see those fabrics, shall we?

Very similar to the last baby quilt I made, but not entirely intentional.  I found the bottom indigo and loved it.  Then found that white and was off and running.  The grey just fell into place, as well as the other blues.  I had trouble finding good oranges and that top green actually came from my stash!  But it's enough to do what I wanted to do, so I'm happy.

I even found something for the back that is pretty much perfect!

Yesterday, I ironed the freshly-washed fabrics early, before the heat really set in.  And then started cutting.

I even cut, pieced and pressed the binding.  AND pieced the back!

And then paired up some strip sets, as this quilt was originally designed to work with a jelly roll and a charm pack.

And then I sewed and sewed and sewed.  And cut.  And sewed some more.  Until I got to this point:

Some of the squares get white borders.  Some do not.  Some of the strips sets with triangle corners get cut in half, some do not.  So at this point, I need to lay it all out and make some placement decisions.

But...my iron is nearly empty.  So I took a quick trip to the store.  And now need to get back to the books.  Well, book.

Oh, wait.  The 100 blocks in 100 days started today!  I made that block first thing this morning.  We are posting specific blocks on specific days, but based on our time zones.  Since the host is in Australia, she's basically a day ahead of those of us in the US, so I feel SOOO behind.  So I wanted to get that up as quickly as I could.

But first, I forgot my fabric pull...remember it was based on my shoe collection?

That doesn't seem like a lot of pink, but I removed more than half my pink stash because it was too light, too orange, too whatever.  These made the cut.

And the block:

How's that for funky?  (It's refusing to lie flat, but is actually flat and square.)  This quilt has some blocks that will be really great for larger prints.  And while I don't want my quilt to get all cutesy with focal prints, I thought this was a good compromise.

And a few more photos...

There is a hashtag going around instagram (#midyearroundup) that is prompting folks to look at all they've made so far this year.  I had to pick and choose because I can only get so many photos in a collage.  I've made THAT many quilts already!

And I just keep going!

While I was shopping for baby quilt fabric, this jumped into my cart...

...oh, it's sideways.  Oh well.  My hubby refers to one of our 14-year-old nieces as "Monster" and her mom as "Godzilla"...which he also sometimes calls the niece.  So I thought some pillowcases out of this would be hilarious.  I think the orange check in the baby quilt photo above will end up being the cuff.  I'm pretty sure I have enough extra.

And finally, Emma found the spot on the floor in the sewing room with best fan coverage...

...she was pretty much in the way of everything, but as long as I could move my chair without rolling over her, I let her stay.  I can walk around and over her.  And she's so darn cute!

In making the collage, I realized I'd given away the graduation quilt to another niece and not only did I forget to take a photo of the finished quilt, I haven't shared about it yet!  I was waiting to share until she received it, but that was more than a week ago.  So I'll work on a blog post about that in a few days...

Happy quilting!