Thursday, May 23, 2019

pantone challenge nearly done!!!!!

It's been an odd week here.  My hubby is on vacation, which means my routines are disrupted even more than usual (working every third day is enough disruption!), so I'm trying to squeeze in quilting stuff when and where I can.

Monday afternoon, I finally talked myself into testing the tension using the King Tut variegated thread I'd purchased.  I think I may have mentioned I bought quite a few colors, but had kinda settled on just using this one coral-red cone instead of many thread changes...and lots of tails to bury!  But King Tut is a little heavier (and a LOT lintier) than the thread I usually use, so I knew there would be some tweaking of tension.

Not a very big piece, but some dark blue solid I don't expect I'll need.  And the coral will show up really well, so I see what needs adjustments.  (It IS pressed, just looks terrible in this photo!)

I did ask for help from a facebook group of Innova owners, and the consensus was that I should need to do little.  I was wary, but if you've seen the masterpieces these folks post, I was willing to believe they might be right.  My last experience with this thread was not great, but it was the only thing close in color, so I was going to master it.  The best advice, though?  The thread is super linty, so blow out your bobbin case after every single bobbin.  I also re-oiled.  It took longer, but only one bobbin change gave me trouble.

So my practice piece?

I changed very little, but kept trying different designs to make sure it wasn't going to do something wonky with a new direction.  And other than what looks like pulling there on the middle design, everything looks great.  There were thread pokies on top in a few spots and some on the bottom in others, but nothing consistently wrong on any side, so I decided it was good enough.  (And once it's washed, I hope most of that will go away on the actual quilt anyways.)

It was early yet.  I expected this would take quite a while.  And perhaps some new, made-up curse words, to get it right.  Load the quilt?  Sure!

I wound five bobbins, figuring that was a good place to start, but still not entirely sure HOW I was going to quilt this monster.  My original idea was to do different motifs in all the sections, using matching thread.  I was going back and forth with doing just an overall design?  (I'm partial to swirls, but have gotten kinda sick of them...and they are starting to look like octopus arms, too...)  Should I still change threads?  That will hide a multitude of sins on the top.  (The back is busy, but not THAT busy!)  Or do the different motifs in the coral?

Just start quilting already!

Oh, those paisleys will look wonderful in that turquoise!

And that swirl feather in the coral?  Love it!

But please ignore my bad echoing.  It continues throughout the quilt.  So now, like my messy pebbles, it is a design element, not a mistake.

As I finished the first pass and went to roll the quilt, the quilt and excess batting were on the floor.  In a few more rows, I'd have it all off the floor, but at the start, this is how it goes.

Oh, hi, Emma.  Thanks for helping.  This really does resemble helping more than the next photo...

I sewed a while.  Through four bobbins, in fact.  A bobbin will do about 6 or 7 blocks and each row is 8.  So most of a row.  But that means 10 bobbins for the whole quilt!

(I read something somewhere that estimated the amount of thread you'd need.  I remember for a king-size quilt, heavily quilted, they estimated something like 1500 yards.  You'll see how silly that was, too, soon!)

It was getting late and I needed to tidy up and wanted a little time to wind down before bed because I had to work Tuesday morning.  So I tidied up and put aluminum foil over the edges of the quilt.  Expecting that would keep the cats at bay.

At work Tuesday, my hubby (remember, he's on vacation?) sent me a video of Freddie on the top rail, paws on the top of the longarm, just checking things out.  When he hopped onto the quilt itself, stretched between the rails, the video ended because the hubby got him down.

He hadn't done much damage, and I managed to roll through another bobbin Tuesday after work.  But my quilting time was short-lived for chores...and remember, the hubby is I tidied up again and knew I'd finish on Wednesday.

I woke up to find a DENT in my quilt where I'm pretty sure Freddie slept most of the night.  And some batting trouble...

The batting monster had a midnight snack.  (And then a nap...)

Thankfully it's at the corner/edge and I was able to cut out and replace the spots (there's another smaller one towards the bottom-center, too) without much trouble.  And he didn't eat the batting...or not much of evidenced by the balls of batting all over my floor and quilt.

That dent...caused a pucker on the back...

...first one ever on my longarm.  I was able to ease the stretched fabric on the front because I could see it.  The back...I hoped for the best and really, this isn't that bad.  And I said the back was busy...busy enough to hide this pucker fairly well!

But as my work on the quilt began on Wednesday, I started to worry about how much thread I had left.  I wound five more bobbins and really started to wonder...

So I sewed on and mentally prepared for running out.  I could order more.  I could switch thread colors to finish up.  It would all depend on how early I ran out.

I was pretty giddy by the time I got here.  This is the last row to be quilted.  THE. LAST. ROW.  I was about to finish bobbin #9 and put in #10.

Thread check!

(Maybe this was at two blocks to go?  I can't remember.  But close to the end!)

By the end, I was having trouble not speeding up my sewing.  I find that when I know I'm getting close to the end of a bobbin or spool, I try to sew faster.  As if THAT will make the thread last longer!

I did modify my motif choices some (swirl feather instead of paisleys in one area and less echoing of swirl flowers in another) to help ease the thread issue, but was still wondering...

And then I was done.


The bobbin was nearly empty, too!

So remember when I said a king size quilt, quilted heavily, was supposed to take like 1500 yards of thread?  This quilt is 76x76.  Not king size.  Nowhere near that.  Quilted heavily.  That spool?  2000 yards.  I'd say their estimate is wrong.  Or know, overquilting is the thing now...and I jumped on the bandwagon!

I believe I also mentioned a while back that my back was JUST big enough.  So, in the last pass photo above, you see the coral I added to either end to make it larger enough for the longarm.  And then I trimmed that off and used it to make binding!

The hubby was at the doctor, so I took advantage of the time and got the binding made.  I was pressing it in half when he got home and wanted to go to the nearby drive-in restaurant for dinner.  I couldn't get my shoes on fast enough!  He doesn't like to go there often (the greasy, deliciousness does not sit well with our aging stomachs), so I was excited!  It was delicious and my stomach handled it better than expected!  (I think a lot of my stomach troubles were due to stress at my last job because, in general, it is complaining a lot less in the last year.)

Today I will get that binding sewn down and then I have this quilt plus the baby quilt to do the hand-sewing of binding.  The baby quilt needs to be done first to make it in time for the baby shower.  But this one also has a hard deadline...less than a month, but plenty of time to procrastinate.

Tonight begins graduation season.  I have a niece and nephew both graduating this year, as well as two children of cousins (on the hubby's side).  So there will be many open houses and such to attend in the coming weeks, but I'm proud of all of them.

In the meantime...quilting?!

Happy quilting,

Sunday, May 19, 2019

mini challenge and other stuff

I left you last with the mini challenge quilt needing a LOT more quilting.  At least that's how I saw it...

I knew I wanted to do different motifs between many of the wider lines, but wanted to do something extra special in the wide open corner in the upper right.  I quickly found some inspiration in my Instagram feed from freebirdquiltingdesigns and winged it from there.

Scary quilting, but if this is going to be properly done as a challenge, I'd better up my game, right?

A few sections done in fairly simple, familiar, motifs and then it was the "big corner"...a few deep breaths and some "you can do this" talk to myself and I went for it!


But I've invented a new quilt motif.

"Messy Pebbles"

Now don't you go telling me they're not a thing.  They ARE NOW.

Once that was done (and I am pretty proud of that flower - my first time - and that leaf that I just winged in there at the last second), it was on to the remainder of the quilt.  I worked my way towards the center, and like the work on my domestic machine, that meant buried threads instead of sewing off the edge.  But it also meant fewer motifs per section (faster) and I didn't have to figure out where to pause stitching to roll the quilt a few inches one way or another to finish without completely stopping and tying off threads!

And before I knew it, I was done!

This took less than a whole bobbin, but it's only 24x24", so not a large quilt.

I wanted to try to do a faced binding with this, but at the very edge, on one side, the orange got a little puckery.  Which meant I had to hide that with real binding.  So faced binding will be a challenge for another day.

But I did figure out how to match the binding to the top!

What did I put on the back?

Just the busiest scrap I could find.  And no, I didn't even try to match up the pattern where I pieced it.  The pieces I have are left over from the back of another quilt and getting small.  Finding two pieces that would actually match up and not losing my eyesight trying to do so...well...I'd rather be able to see.  And it's the back.

(Hi Freddie!)

The front?

Ta da!

I have yet to send in the photo for entry.  I was going to do that before I wrote this, but got stuck when the instructions said to provide a sentence or two about the quilt.  I don't think "hey, I tried new things" would be a good idea.  Also, explaining my new quilt motif might tip them off to look more closely at my work.  (Not a good idea since it's far from perfect!)  And "pick me! pick me!" might seem a little juvenile.

I have until 5pm Tuesday.

(But I would like to get it done today.)

In other news...

Yesterday I had the day off and the quilt guild had their sew-in at the library, so I got to go!  Only two other members attended, but we had fun.  We went to the local outdoor barbecue "food truck" (they do have an actual building, but it's an old gas station, so basically a small room with a window where you pay and they have refrigerators - all the cooking stuff is outside!) and I got some chicken and black bean chimis...

Yummy!  I love this place.  They're only open Friday and Saturdays during the summer.  Unless they're not.  (Like Memorial Day weekend they'll be closed.)  I love that my friends will eat at these adventurous places with me.  My hubby is Mr. PickyPants, so convincing him to try something new is much harder.  Me?  I'll try anything once!

While at sew-in, I didn't get a lot done...well, not a lot of sewing, that is!  But I managed to get a small batch of tiny stars made.  I've been slacking on these a lot lately, so it felt good to get a batch made.

And today, I went to a book store looking for a book to include with the baby quilt.  My friend's sister is throwing the shower and asked that we all include a favorite book from our childhood instead of a card.  I decided a collection of fairy tales would be fun and hopefully unique (not that I didn't enjoy a good Dr. Seuss story or a Shel Silverstein poem, too), and I found one that I'm excited to give.  (The first one I picked up had terrifying illustrations!)

Then my husband let me wander into the fiction section unsupervised...

...probably not his best idea.

I still have not made time to work with my longarm and the variegated thread I bought for my Pantone challenge quilt.  Tomorrow?

But the hubby is off work the next two weeks (he gets a LOT of vacation time and takes most of it during the summer so he can fish...if the weather isn't good for fishing, he leans on me to entertain him) we'll see how things go.  But I AM going to finish it and meet the challenge deadline!

Happy quilting,

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

more of a challenge than I wanted

The Year of the Challenge Quilts continues...

On the first of this month, I received an email about a modern mini quilt challenge.  For the most part, I ignored it.  But then one day, I decided maybe I would go for it.  I know this challenge will probably be much higher caliber entries than some of the other challenges I've done, but why not?

So while the hubby watched nonsense on television, I looked at Pinterest for inspiration.  And found some, though I don't have any links to credit.  Just a conglomeration of quilts and a color scheme I'd been wanting to try out more since I saw it in a challenge quilt a few years ago.

But I kinda stalled.  I only had a few weeks.

But with Project Quilting I only had ONE week.  And I made a whole almost-bed-sized quilt.  What's my problem?

Wednesday, the hubby went to work.  I got busy drafting my idea and sewing...

...yes, yes, this will work.

I raided my strings bin, but had to supplement with stash.  But there were some fairly skinny pieces in my stash, so that was nice to find.  (Okay, okay, I knew they were wasn't an accidental finding...)

Before I knew it, I had all the blocks made!

Emma was at about 50% meltdown at this point.  It was getting close to dinner time, but what you see here is basically a 9-patch in need of sewing.  So I kept going.  It wasn't going to take that long.

And here you can see I managed to sew some things in there backwards from the original plan.  While it's not exactly to my liking, I wasn't going to rip it out.  Not yet.  I had to FEED EMMA!!!!!

(I was also kinda hungry.)

Note that the grey is NOT wrinkled.  It is a muslin that has been crinkled up and overdyed.  Remember that whole bolt of fabric I bought while at retreat in January?  This was my first cut into it.  And while I'm not sold on the ray-of-sunshine look in that lower right corner, I do like the overall effect.

At this point, I stalled out a few days.  I had a baby quilt that needed to be quilted, so I decided to work on that.  Remember this one from my Closet of Shame (also featured on my "Parade of Tops" page)?

I quilted this on Thursday, but will save that whole saga for another post...

The weekend got busy between two shifts at work, two family gatherings and all the other things that go with adulting.  (Stupid adulting.)

Monday, the hubby headed back to work, and another day off for me, so I decided it was time to get that mini quilted.  Or at least started.

In chatting with three quilting friends, I had figured out not only the motif ideas, but that I wanted to use high loft poly batting to get the definition in the quilting.  I wasn't sure two layers of the 80/20 I usually use would cut it, so I bought a small poly batt.

FYI: spray baste does NOT stick well to high loft poly batt.  It, however, does stick well to your clothing while you're trying to sew.  And your ironing board that is next to your sewing table.  And pretty much everything that you don't want it to stick to.

I tried to baste the edges of the quilt first, figuring it would help stabilize it.

Bad Messy idea.

Fire up the longarm and baste it that way.

Hard to see here, but poofy!

I had purchased a purple, air-erasing marker and marked lines prior to trying to baste.  You can't really see them here, but neither can I.  They got lighter with time.  I think the perspiration from my hands (there was probably more than usual...) did not help, as the pen is also water-erasable.  Another good-to-know thing I learned with this project.

But...there was NO WAY this thing was going to behave under a domestic machine.  (Why am I using the domestic, you ask?  Because I want to quilt straight, diagonal lines.  And I am no good on the longarm with rulers.  Also, my machine does not like to go diagonally well.  If I had weeks to practice, not days, maybe.  But I can get a more reliable straight line on my little machine.  And this is only 24x24", so doable.  Or so I thought...)

So, this challenge is becoming way more of a challenge than I wanted.  I dig out my safety pins.  The things I packed away when I got my longarm, thinking "so long, little torture devices"...yeah...

Yep, there they are.  My trusty safety pins.  I only put in a few at the start, figuring if it didn't work, I'd have fewer to remove.

But it worked.

It worked well.  I actually like how this is looking.  Of course, there are a LOT more lines to go, but the nice thing, as the squares got bigger, was that I could start sewing from the edge and not have to bury threads any more.  Much faster!

I moved safety pins and added more as necessary.

I was going to do a faced type binding on this, but one edge has a few little puckers as I quilted out to the edge, so that will need to hide.  Or be trimmed.  I'll have to decide.

For now, the quilt is here...

...I really like it!

My plan is to now put it on the longarm for real and do some doodley stuff in the wider bands.  (That was the plan all along, so the back is bigger enough that when I needed to put it on the longarm, it wasn't much trouble.)  I can do doodley stuff way better on the longarm...and not just because my little machine doesn't have a table.

I'm not sure what the larger, corner, parts will get.  It depends how daring I get between now and next Tuesday, when it's due.  I was going to work on it tonight after work, but once chores were done (and a few extra fun ones, like planting some new lilacs) and dinner was eaten, it's gotten late.  Tomorrow?

But I still have to keep in mind that my Pantone challenge quilt is due soon, too.  I added fabric to the back so that it will load easily onto the longarm, but now I'm trying to decide how to quilt it.  And I need to load a practice piece to play with tension for the thicker thread I bought because last time I used that kind, my machine threw a hissy fit.  And it's been throwing those too frequently lately, just using the same kind of thread I use almost all the time.  

I don't have any more cat photos, but I found this squirrel in my Closet of Shame.  I was looking machine oil?...and there it was, just sitting in a box.  I'm pretty sure it was a Christmas decoration (short version of that story), but it made me laugh pretty hard when I found it.  So I sent this photo to my friend and then yesterday, got silly, and added a caption...

Also in the realm of squirrels...I was shopping the other day and saw these shoes.  So I bought them.

(I've been kinda wanting a pair of Chucks, but wasn't ready to commit.  These are off-brand, but super cute and a better price for shoes I can't wear much because they have no cushion or support...not good work shoes!)

And finally...


You might like it.  I do not.  They ruined orange, vanilla and Coke all in one bottle.  I'll be sticking to regular Coke in the future.

The baby quilt, shown above, is quilted and the binding has been sewn down - the machine-sewn side.  The shower is in a few weeks, but I'm not sure I'll be going.  Either way, I'll plan to blog about it soon.  I don't think my friend reads the blog (if she does, well, she knows what the top looks like!), but I kinda want to get it to her first.  But it's cool.  And there's some drama on the longarm to share with the quilting efforts, too...

Off to snuggle the kitties!

Happy quilting!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

dear anonymous...

A while ago, some blog readers mentioned that the "tell me you're not a robot" comment spam protector made them solve a LOT of puzzles to get through.  I honestly didn't know that was what blogger was making you all do (and thank you to each of you who jumped through all the hoops!), so I decided to turn that function off and see how it went.

At first it went well.

Lately...well...I've been amused.  By "Anonymous."  So I thought I'd share some of the comments I've been receiving.  (But not publishing.)  I'm pretty sure they're spam.  At least most of them are.  And I'm very sure that if someone really wanted to talk to me, they'd either e-mail me directly (that info is out there, easy to find), or create an account to log in an actually leave a comment as a real reader.  Even if they have their settings to "no-reply" (even if by accident), I'm pretty sure these aren't legitimate comments.

In response to my post "I might have a challenge problem" I got this:

"A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.  There's no doubt that you need to write more on this issue, it might not be a taboo subject by typically folks don't discuss these subjects. To the next! Cheers!!"

Also this:

"Write more, thats all I have to say.  Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.  You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?"

I sure hope no one thinks quilting is a taboo subject.  But something I do know is that I did not imbed a video in this post.  But thanks, Anonymous, for your input.  I will surely try to use my intellect more on my next post.

(typos are theirs - in all the comments)

While that post was a more recent, I also got this one in response to a post regarding a quilt I made quite a few years ago for a friend's baby-to-be, Denis (yes, that's how they spelled his name):

"I'm no longer positive where you're getting your information, but good topic.  I needs to spend some time learning much more or working out more.  Thanks for fantastic information I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission."

Glad I could be of service to your mission, Anonymous.  Also, much of the information comes from my head.  Well, my brain that is inside my head.

But most recently, my "busy, busy, busy" post has gotten even more attention.  I'm sorry, Anonymous, if you really are a real person trying to connect with me, but these are grammatically wrong and therefore funny.  Please create an actual account so I can reply.  Maybe.

"Fantastic beat!  I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can I subscribe for a blog website?  The account helped me a acceptable deal.  I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea"


"It's in reality a nice and helpful piece of info.  I am happy that you just shared this useful info with us.  Please stay us up to date like this."

and one more...

"Wow, this article is nice, my younger sister is analyzing these things, thus I am going to convey her."

So, Anonymous, I thank you for your positive input on my blog.  I am glad I could help not only with a mission, but also someone else's younger sister in her analysis of, um, something?  I also would love to have an apprentice, but I'm pretty sure there are far better people who can teach you about internetting.

And with that, proving you are NOT in fact a robot, will again be required to comment on my blog.  I apologize to all of you actual readers for the inconvenience.  Perhaps I'll have a friendly giveaway for non-robots in the near future to thank you all for your patience in solving a multitude of puzzles?  (My hubby will probably roll his eyes just as high over me giving away perfectly good quilting supplies that I have not bought yet as he rolls them when I bring home MORE cat toys...)

But a blog post isn't a blog post without a cat photo, right?  And a few of you mentioned you missed the furry beasties in my last post.  So here is Freddie, as I found him after I finished writing the last blog post...putting one last batch of love into the quilts I sent off to Jack's Basket last Friday.

That face...he looks a bit angry, but more like "mom, stop!"  He's truly turning into a handsome cat.  Every time I look at him, I can't believe how big he is.  He's caught up to Gabby (though she's still heavier - I call her my gymnast, as she's petite, but solid), but I expect he'll be at least as tall as Emma (and she's big for a girl cat), if not taller.  But in my mind, I still see that 8-week-old kitten we brought home in December of last year.  And most days, he acts like it, too!

Not much quilting going on here.  I got fabric to enlarge the challenge back and last night appliqued a few of the "seeds" while watching some Netflix, but there aren't any squirrels running around lately, so I'm kinda in a lull.  That's okay, though.  Resting up for the next batch of squirrels!

Happy quilting!