Thursday, September 20, 2018

fall 2018 blogger's quilt festival

To those of you visiting my blog for the first time - Welcome!

(For those of you who have been reading for years, my apologies for the repeat stories!)

When I realized it was time again for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I was excited to see the quilts.  I haven't joined in in a while, and wasn't sure if I would participate this round either.  But I decided to pull out my favoritest of quilts and tell the story again.

(To see all the other entries, see Amy's post here.)

First, let me tell you a little bit about me!  I've been quilting for 24 years.  Wait.  24 years?  No, that can't be...I'm only 27!  Child prodigy, I guess!

But seriously, my journey started when I was a sophomore in college and one of my best friends from high school called me and told me she was pregnant.  She was in a sticky situation and had many folks looking down their noses at her.  I wanted to do something to tell her I cared and supported her, no matter what.  My mom had been quilting for a few years by this time and I'd been helping, but would not have considered myself a quilter.  I didn't have the patience.  Yet.  So I asked for her help and we designed and made a Snail's Trail quilt.  In like 300 different colors.  Because nothing like easy for your first go, right?  I didn't take a photo of that quilt, but it started me on a journey, perhaps obsession at this point, of quilting.

My mom has been a mentor and helpful for problems, but I'm not exactly sure she was a teacher.  I just watched what she did and learned.  But she's an amazing quilter (you can see photos from a trunk show she did for my quilt guild a few years back here) and continues to inspire me with her work, even if she chooses colors and prints that I would never give a second glance!

And my friend got two more (unphotographed) baby quilts for the other two children she and her hubby had.  Finally, about a year and a half ago, she got her own quilt!

The quilt I want to share with you took a long journey to being finished.  In August of 2013, I purchased a kit for a quilt at the AQS show in Grand Rapids.  I saw the quilt on display in the Cherrywood booth and kept going back, cringing at the cost.  Finally, before I left, I purchased the kit (with them promising to send me the needed grey fabrics via mail because they'd run out!)...

...and the journey started.

This quilt, called Feng Shui by Janine Burke, was to be made in purple and grey.  My favorite color is purple and this started my problem with grey.  (It's become worse in recent years...)

In July of 2014, I finally cut into the fabrics.  I was terrified.  I was so afraid of making a mistake, but I was at a guild retreat, so the fun atmosphere helped keep me calm!

Over time, I managed to finish sewing the blocks and decided to use every last scrap to make the quilt fit my bed (originally, I planned to make it a throw quilt, but why stop there?!)...  I remember laying it out on my living room floor (I am not lucky enough to have a design wall) and thinking I needed a bigger living room to make it all fit!

The colors aren't great here, but you get the idea of the block and layout.  The block is very simple, but getting those colors alternated properly and making sure no too-matchy colors were next to each other was difficult.  I'm sure I had help from my many cats, but apparently I managed to get a photo without one of them in the middle of this.

At this point, I knew (math!) it needed borders to fit my bed, so I took a deep breath and ordered some very dark grey Cherrywood fabric.  Another pricey purchase, but it had to be done.

It stalled out again as a borderless top, but one day I just did it.  Borders are those dreaded long seams that are the inevitable part of quiltmaking (my least favorite part), but you can't finish a quilt without them, so you just have to do it sometimes.

And then it stalled out as a top needing a back.  But one day, just wandering the aisles of a local fabric store, I found the PERFECT back.  It's a purple and black houndstooth flannel, found in the garment section.  It's 100% cotton, so good for a quilt back, and very snuggly soft!  I drove to two different stores to get enough - that's how perfect it was!  (No photo of just the back...not yet!)

It stalled out again because HOW was I going to quilt this?  Again, worry of ruining it, or not doing it justice.  It's a simple pattern, but that doesn't mean it should be quilted simply.

I have a longarm (I got it in 2010), but don't quilt for anyone but myself, so I don't have nearly the experience as those who do.  I'm a little afraid of it, still, if we're being honest.  But a few summers ago, my aunt paid for a longarm class with Angela Walters.  We were in Kansas City for a family reunion, so very close, and she and my other aunt are all quilters, so we went.  It was a BLAST!  And what I took away from that class was worth every penny.  I learned that it doesn't have to be perfect and I shouldn't be afraid to try.  (Also, I learned to turn off my stitch regulator and haven't looked back - no, you DON'T need it!!!!)

I was ready to quilt this.  One day it all came together, motif and guts, and I put it on the machine.

I took a deep breath (or 12) and started quilting.  The first pass went well and I was off and running!

I quilted for 4 hours.  5 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
I went to bed.
I quilted for 1.5 hours.  2 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
I went to do family stuff.
I quilted 2 hours.  3 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.

I rewound 3 bobbins and saw I was getting low on thread.  A 3,280 yard spool of thread.  New 10 bobbins ago.  I should be okay, right?  I've never used anywhere near that much thread, so I'll be fine.

I quilted 1 more hour.  1.5 bobbins.  Longarm bobbins.
One more pass!!!!  6 more block/motifs.
My machine threw a fit.
Uh oh!
I looked up and over the quilt, trying to discern the reason.

Well that's not good.
I'm out of thread!
And I don't have another spool!

So I put tinfoil all over the quilt, hoping the cats wouldn't bother it (you know this is the world's most expensive cat hammock, right?!) in the time it took the thread to get here.

And finally, about a week later, the last portion was done!!!

I breathed a huge sigh of relief at this point.  It was quilted.  Binding, though it would take a while and wrestling the quilt to get the machine-sewn part sewn down would be difficult, I was in the home stretch.

Now it's time for a few photos!

Most of the quilt on my clothesline.  (It's all there, just the line isn't tall enough!)

And a closeup of the quilting motif I used.  This was super fun and has Angela written all over it!

The border was basically the same, just done in a linear fashion.

And a photo of the back that shows the quilting nicely, plus the dimension that thicker flannel gives.  And, well, if you can see it, the actual pattern of the back fabric.

I wrestled the quilt and got the binding sewn on by machine on the first part and then had the long chore of sewing it down by hand on the second side.  I do not recommend dark bindings, as you can't see well what you're doing, but I got it on.  In July of 2016.  Well, okay, the hand-sewing of binding may have taken a few months longer...

Only 3 years old, right?

Well, it didn't go right on my bed.  Not only was it hot and there was no need, but I was afraid my cat Emma (also known as Emma-No) would revisit a meal while lounging on my beautiful quilt.  I mean, I knew it was going to have to be washed eventually, but on my terms, not hers!

It did hang in my guild's show the following March, still not having seen my bed.  My excuse at that point was that I didn't want to submit a cat-fur-covered quilt.  Yeah.  Okay.

But last year, over Memorial Day weekend, I buckled down and repainted my bedroom.  Grey.  Because this quilt was destined for the bed in there.  And once the paint was dry and furniture returned to its proper location, I put the quilt on the bed.  Cat hair (and other things) be darned.  I was going to USE this quilt!  That's what they're for.

The photo makes the grey walls look more blue, but that probably has to do with lighting and the quilt.  And the pink bunny flannel sheets.  They definitely add a flair you won't see in any home decorating magazines!

This quilt still lives on my bed, year-round.  In hotter months, it gets slept on, in cooler months it gets slept under.  And it's washed beautifully!  I do very little to wash my quilts differently than any other laundry (gentle cycle and cold water is all) and it's held up without any complaint.

So the particulars:

Pattern: Feng Shui by Janine Burke
Fabric: Cherrywood in grey and purples
Size: 86x100"
Weight: 8 pounds


I hope you've enjoyed my quilt's journey and be sure to visit Amy to see all the others!

Happy quilting,

Saturday, September 15, 2018

2018 rainbow scrap challenge is a TOP and one other project...

This week has flown by.  I was scheduled to work Tuesday and Thursday mornings, which makes for short sewing days, but I planned to make the most of my day off, Wednesday.

Originally, I was going to make tiny stars.  But Responsible Katie said I should cut the sashing strips for my rainbow scrap challenge blocks so they'd be ready for sew-in this weekend.  (I got to go both Friday and Saturday!)  That makes sense.

So I cut those.  No photos.  Nothing much interesting, really.

Then, Responsible Katie saw the new red, purchased to make the Summer Fun quilt larger, sitting there on the cutting mat and said I should just work on that.  Use the fabric, put it away.  Instead of working around it to make tiny stars.

Now where did those notes go?

These took a while to find because, well, do they look like anything useful?  I was pretty sure they were in this notebook, but thought I'd drawn a few diagrams or something.


But you know what?  They were right!

So I took apart some of the quilt, added a few rows of sashing to make it a little taller and then sewed another batch of checkerboard borders and it was done!  36x36, as predicted!

I think I like it with the sashing strips between the friendship stars.  They looked a little crammed in there before, so even better!

I should have cut and made binding from the red before I put it away, but oh well!  Later?

But, midway through this project, my boss called.  We did inventory this Thursday and there was a lot to be done in preparation for that event.  Like major tidying up in the store.  And she hadn't done a very good job of scheduling the right people for that.  So I agreed to go in later and help.  Having been scheduled only two shifts last week, the extra hours weren't a bad thing either.

So no tiny stars happened this week.

That's okay.

This weekend is my guild's sew-in and I was able to attend both days!  I have no idea what happened that I wasn't scheduled to work Friday or Saturday, but I'm not going to complain!

Friday morning I packed up my rainbow scrap challenge blocks, sashing, and all the other assorted necessities and headed to the library where our event is held.  The room is large and, sadly, the sew-in is poorly attended, so I knew there'd be plenty of room to lay everything out, fiddle with the arrangement and sew it from the floor.  At home, I don't have nearly as much room, plus I have "helpful" cats...and a hubby who would allow the quilt to lay in the middle of the floor for a few days, but wouldn't be happy about it.

So 75 blocks were layed out into 25 groups of 3 based on the photo from the book.  Well, sort of.  Mine aren't in exact locations of the original, but I grouped them by color and placed colors in about the same locations.  But since my blocks were a range of colors in each group, I tried to put like colors in groups of three to make it more cohesive.

The layout (that probably changed a touch in sewing because I wasn't being careful with directionalities):

The pinks gave me the most trouble because some are more orange, some more red, etc.  But I got to the point that it was good enough.  I wish I'd limited my colors a bit more on some of these, but in the end, I knew it would be fine.  With all that variety, a few oddballs will blend in just fine.  And I'm NOT remaking any of those blocks.

So I started sewing the sets of three into blocks.

That took For. Ever.

But I was doing them one at a time and pressing after each seam.  And being a genius that I am, I set up the ironing board across the room from me.  Why?  I don't know.  It seemed like a good idea when I put it there!  But it did get me up and moving a lot, so it made up for all the chocolate I ate!  (Thanks Carol!)

By the time I went home (5pm), I had all the sets of three sewn into 25 larger blocks.

Up and at it early again this morning, I started sewing the sashings to make vertical columns.  Usually I go horizontally with my sewing rows, but for whatever reason, this quilt seemed to need to go vertically.  It doesn't really matter, though.

By lunch I had the blocks sewn into their columns!

It's not easy to distinguish the sashing from the carpet, as it's a darker grey.  It looks kinda like grunge and kinda like cork, but is neither.

Back from a delicious lunch at a local outdoor (food truck-like deal) barbecue place (I even smell good from the smoke billowing around us while we ate!), and it was on to the dreaded long seams.

A few hours later, those were complete and I had a top.  Then I needed to decide about outer borders.  The pattern calls for 6" finished.  That seemed excessively wide, so I decided to go narrower.  One quilter friend suggested 4", but I opted for 3", knowing the wider borders always stump me when it comes time to quilt.  I feel they need special treatment when they get that wide and I never know what to do.

By about 4pm today, I had a finished top!!!!

Looking at it now, maybe the wider border would have been a better choice visually, but I'm not taking it back off and adding an inch wider border!

There are a few issues with a few blocks and a little issue with some of the columns not lining up with each other as you go across horizontally (and I should have known to line those up when sewing, but I got so excited to be almost done, plus dreading the seams in the first place...), but this is going to be used, so once it's draped over a person, you're not going to notice it much.  So I'm good.

I wanted to stay later and piece the back for it, as well as make the binding, but my friends were ready to pack up and go.  And since I was the only one left capable of lifting the tables to put them back, lift the chairs to put them back and run the vacuum to suck up our stringy bits, I had to pack up too.  (Well, I could have sewn alone...but that's not fun!)

So I'll get those parts done at home and this quilt will be ready for the longarm when the weather cools some.  Temps have gone back up into the 80s during the days this week and will continue to be such for a few more.  Thankfully, though, temps at night are dropping to comfortable sleeping weather, so at least we can get a good rest to prepare for the next warm day!

Time to go help the hubby wrangle cats - the softener needs salt and it's harder than anything to get the cats back out of the basement (where the softener lives) if they get down there.  Plus they're a major trip hazard when they try to "help" us down the stairs...

Happy quilting!

Monday, September 10, 2018

odds and ends but not much sewing

I can't really explain why I haven't done much sewing since my last post, but I haven't...

The last two days, however, have had a bunch of quilty fun...spendy fun, but fun!

First, I went to JoAnn's yesterday because I had a special 25% off everything coupon and calicos were on (not a very good) sale.  I need something to set my Patchwork City blocks (from the Rainbow Scrap Challenge) and my guild's sew-in is this weekend.  There's no better place to lay out 75 blocks and have them remain undisturbed for two days, so I'd better be prepared!

I found a darker grey that looks kinda like grunge that I think will work well.  I struggled with a color choice because there are a lot of shades of grey...and white and off-white and black...mixed in with the colors in the blocks.  But I hope this sashing will allow all the blocks to shine.

Sadly, I took no photo of that.  But it's not as exciting as what I found for the back.  Just cruising around, though the also-on-sale flannels and I saw this:

How is this NOT the BEST fabric for a quilt named Patchwork City?

Of course, the quilt finishes 90x90" and they only had 4 yards.  But their handy little scanner thingie at the cutting counter told me there were another 4-ish yards at another store about 10 minutes away.  So, bribe the hubby (driver) with chocolate (very expensive checkout line chocolate) and go to 2nd store.

I bought another 4+ yards, in three pieces, and truly hope I can cobble it together well enough to make up the whole back.  I do have some longer strips of flannel in other prints left from other quilt backs, so I can make it work, but this is epic in its perfection.

While there (and at all JoAnn's stores), I checked the Christmas fabric.  Remember the Summer Fun quilt-along I did?  And how I was going to make it bigger enough to donate to Jack's Basket and then I didn't have enough of the red to make more checkerboard strip borders?  Maybe I didn't chronicle that particular snafu, but it happened.  I knew the red had been purchased to make cuffs on Christmas pillowcases and I knew it had come from JoAnn's and I knew it was in the Christmas prints.  The closest store did not have any, but guess what?  Store #2 yesterday DID!  So I bought a whole yard cause I'm not gonna screw that up again!!!  (I need like 3" to add to what I have at home.)

Now where did I put my notes on how to make it bigger...???

I was good while there and purchased nothing else.

But as I was shopping, I was kicking myself for not making this trip on a Saturday, when Hobby Lobby - just up the road and a 30 minute drive each way - is also open because I needed more grey for my tiny stars.  (Only two made since my last post, but I'm getting there!)  And I know that came from Hobby Lobby.

So today I decided I would drive down to Hobby Lobby and get that fabric.  Praying they still had some.

They did!  I bought the last 7 yards on the bolt.  And according to my semi-remembered calculations from a year or more ago, I think I need 10 yards for all the stars.  Combined with the 4 (I think) I bought last time and the scraps I had at home that started it all (maybe a yard), I should have plenty now.  But dang...washing and folding a 7-yard piece is no fun.  I haven't pressed it yet and plan to just lop off chunks as I need it - like a yard at a time - nicely - and press and cut that.

Sorry, no photos there either, but it's a boring grey.  Kinda.

While there, I thought why not look around?  They carry a different, more modern-ish selection of bold prints (my go-to for quilt backs!) and their prices haven't risen as quickly as JoAnn's.  So I perused the fun prints and when I saw this, it was like no other fabric existed until I put it on my stack.

This will go on the back of Swoon.

It's missing the purple of the front, but look close - they're kitties in there!  And I love it.

But then...

Oh no.

There was a bin of clearance fabric.  Some of them $2 a yard!  $2 a yard?  Yep.

I found this for $3 a yard...

And though there was only about 5 yards, I'm hoping it's enough to make a back for my Bikes and Flowers quilt.  I do have chunks of the fabrics used for the top left over that can mix in, so I'll make it work.  But I love it!  When I saw it it was like YES, and then I tried to talk myself out of it.  And then I was like, "self, it's $3 a yard. you can use it somewhere else if you get home and don't like it." So I bought it.

So I think I've spent more than I earned this week.


(there's always next weeks earnings...and I have been really good for weeks!)

But I've been toying with the idea of a Halloween quilt for a while.  I found this potion label fabric on clearance last year and bought the rest of the bolt, thinking it would urge me to make a front.  Yes, that IS sound logic, thankyouverymuch!

Then I started thinking...but I just made an orange and grey and off-white quilt that doesn't have a back yet.  Will they play nice together?

Not the very best photo of the quilt, but I was going for color-matching.  Now I'm not one to worry about colors matching front to back, but if I'm going to do the same scheme on both sides, I want to at least make sure it's not neon orange matched with poison orange (yes, that's a color now. i said so.)

I think it looks pretty good, but will think on it a while before a final decision is made.  Feel free to throw in your own two cents.

We've been having cooler weather here for quite a few days (thank goodness!) and I think it's kicked my brain into gear thinking about finishing quilts.  That's okay.  This is easier than having an overwhelming urge to buy a back in the middle of a snowstorm in a few months!

While I was out running errands the past few days, I found a few fun things to share.

First is what I will call a Marketing Win:

These are batteries.  Any other grown-ups out there want to see how they taste?  Don't lie.  You know it's tempting!  (I did not buy them.)

Next up, I found these cute little (and I mean 3x4 inch-ish) notebooks (3 to a pack).  I decided, after having to run around and make sticky notes that I tried to stick to my phone, but they peeled off while in my purse and got lost, that I needed a better way to keep track of how big my quilt tops were.  So in the event I found myself, say, in the presence of a $2/yard clearance bin, I'd be able to do some math and figure out what I needed for my quilts.  Also, I'd be able to remember what quilts needed backs.  And big the backs need to be when I cobble them together...

How cute is that?  It will fit nicely into my small purse, but seems fairly sturdy to put up with some of the abuse things take while residing in my purse.

(The hubby rolled his eyes at me, but this is what happens when you send me into a dollar store unattended!  And don't let him fool you.  I was there on his errand because he hates the store.)

And finally, after my adventures today, my car may have steered itself into a Jimmy John's...

They make the best veggie sub and my hubby hates their food.  So, since I was out by myself, I picked this up to scarf down for lunch when I got home.  It was delicious!

And with that, I think I will head back to the sewing room to make a few more tiny stars.  The hubby is on an oddball work schedule this week that has him in bed already, so it seems much later than it is.  He's probably asleep by now and says my little machine doesn't bother his slumber (except that one time he dreamed he was in the Vietnam war, my machine providing machine gun firing noises for him...he's too young to be a vet of that war (and is not of any war), so I blame that on too much television!)

Happy quilting!

PS I did sew my UFO for this month - it was just one of the Arcadia Avenue blocks.  So THAT is where my sewing time went.  Ah ha!!!  I'll share about that in another post later this month.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

another project moving again

While I made great progress on my "seeds" last week, I knew the time I had to camp out in front of the television and hand stitch was coming to an end.  The hubby had a long (4-day) weekend this weekend, so I knew it was either watch what he liked or sew elsewhere.

What to do?

Tiny stars!

(aka: sew elsewhere!)

I hadn't touched these in a while, but with the oranges from last months UFO released, I had cut a few more pieces and it just made sense to keep on sewing!

I'm not sure how much of my organization process I've shared, so I'll share it (maybe again!)...

When I cut fabrics, I place a set of 8 matching squares into a tiny zipper bag (the kind intended for jewelry sellers).  This keeps them all together until I'm ready to sew that block.

Then, I happened to have these little tubs in my sewing room - purchased a long time ago at a dollar store on a whim - that fit perfectly!  So my setup when sewing looks like this:

A little messy, but you can see I have plenty of sets of squares to go (though the full set of 100 bags is no longer full, but was when I started this weekend)!  But this quilt is going to take 900+ tiny stars, so I'm going to be raiding stashes of friends and family before long - I think this represents the end of mine!  (I'm also going to have to purchase more background - that grey/black on the far right is my preferred fabric and what I started with - from my stash - I bought a 3-yard chunk at Hobby Lobby earlier this year when the stash chunk ran out and what you see there is the last of that.  The other fabrics are just stash leftovers and I'm mixing them in for interest.)

I didn't sew as many hours as I thought I might at the start of the weekend, but I got a lot done!

Round 1:

33 in this first round.  The colors are a little bleak here, as the photo was taken later in the day when lighting isn't great.  But 33 is awesome!

And then, as a bonus on Sunday, when I didn't expect time to sew, I got a few more done!

Eight more!  For a total of 41 new tiny stars.  (And the colors are much better here!)

I'm not sure of my total count, but I might be hovering around 400 right now.


I have 400 different fabrics?

Well, probably not.  Some of these were the tail ends of fabrics.  A few were scavenged from a bin of scraps at a quilt retreat.  And I know some have been used up since this project started.

But still.  That seems like a lot of fabrics.

But please don't put me at the top of your list of hoarders.  Really.  Almost all of the fabrics I have are left over from other projects.  And many are small pieces.  Like I couldn't cut another round of eight 1.5" squares to make another block small pieces.

And I've been working hard to use my stash.  Doing fairly well, too, thankyouverymuch.

So I'm back on the bandwagon to work on the ongoing projects again.  (We'll see how long it lasts, but if it stops being fun, who wants to do THAT?!)

I'd be back at it again today, but I have to work this afternoon, so I'm just trying to get a few odds and ends in, rather than starting in on something I know I'll have to quit before I'd like.

Yesterday, after work (yep, newbie gets holiday duty!), the hubby and I canned a bushel of tomatoes.  It turned out to be 21 quarts (perfect for my 7-jar canner!), but was fewer than we anticipated.  I think, when the timing is right, we'll probably do a second round.  It was hotter than blazes in my kitchen (the hubby even wore a headband sweatband!) and we made a good mess, but I know when it's below zero outside with a nasty wind whipping around the house, we'll be so happy to curl up with a hot bowl of chili, made with fresh, home-canned tomatoes!

Happy quilting!

PS I forgot to mention - the big show was kind of a disappointment last weekend.  Many of the quilts are quilted to the point I'd call it embroidery.  I can appreciate the workmanship and time involved in these quilts, but I just don't care for the look.  And the vendors were so much the same as previous years that I found nothing new and exciting to purchase.  Not. One. Thing.  But it's okay.  I don't have to buy things and I had a lot of fun with my sister-in-law.  And after, we went back and I hung out with her and one of my brothers for a while.  We were actually trying to talk the other brother into meeting us for dinner, as he'd smashed and broken a finger at work a few days prior.  Mom and dad are on vacation, far east of us, and mom wanted us to check in on, we have fun together.  Unfortunately, being a weekend (non-work) day, that meant he had stuff planned with his kids and wife, so it's okay.  If he was doing that, we're pretty sure he's okay!