So I've kinda been absent. From blogging. And most recently from real life.
You guessed it...there's a story! And you're gonna hear it!
Part of my blogging absence has been due to weather. I've been sewing, but it's been cold and windy and gross outside, so getting photos of finished tops is not easy. And indoor lighting stinks. Though it's not much worse than grey, snowy skies outdoors...
But more recently, I've been working on the latest Project Quilting challenge: "Bigger than a Breadbox." The prompt was released at noon (central time) this past Sunday and I started thinking about how to make it science nerdy right away. It wasn't something that lent itself directly to my tendencies, but I gave it a valiant effort.
I had an idea, so I went shopping...
I bought a whole mess of things to use. And a new sweatshirt...and maybe some short overalls for summer...I was in the store a great while...
I bought a light box that wasn't...
...and came home and did my first round of tea-dyeing...
(it kinda looks like there are poops in my bowl...but they ARE teabags!)
And by the time I got home from work Tuesday night, I was not in love with my idea. Any part of it. So instead of working on it, I sat on the couch and watched television and looked at pinterest. Because that is how responsible adults do things. Things like procrastinate.
But simmering in the back of my head was a desire to make a Valentine-ish quilt. I am NOT a fan of the holiday. (I am a fan of the clearance chocolate after the day is over, though!) I am also not a pink or red person. So why this idea was roaming around was beyond my comprehension.
What did I do? Did I go work on my project like a responsible adult? Did I suck it up and make it all work?
I went into my sewing room (after dark, so the colors look extra fabulous here) and pulled 25 different pink and red fabrics that I thought would have enough for an idea I'd decided I liked on pinterest.
And because all the photos of the quilt I found on pinterest sent to me to either photo-only links or web pages offering to sign me up for college courses in God knows where, I drafted my own pattern. (I may or may not have made an error that makes the tops of my hearts a little shorter, but I'm not telling.)
It was like 9pm now, so a responsible adult would go to bed and get a good night sleep for a hearty day of sewing in the morning, right? Nah. I started cutting fabrics. (Thankfully I had a big chunk of white hanging around for background - I only needed to press the monster.)
I did end up going to bed around 10:30 (my days of being a night owl were over many moons ago) with all the white and about a quarter of the pinks and reds cut. But I didn't sleep well. I was excited. A whole new project. Also a little worried. This quilt will finish 72"x72". I need to make twenty-five 12" blocks. By Sunday noon.
Up early Wednesday. Better get moving!
It really didn't take long to finish cutting. And some of the pieces I'd chosen weren't big enough, so a couple of the blocks will have a little variety. But by about 9am, I was ready to start sewing.
First, make some no-waste flying geese. They aren't entirely waste-free, as you'll see in a minute. But I had to make 100 of them and much of my stash wasn't going to cooperate with wasting a lot. Also, I hate those lost corners, so end up sewing a second seam and trimming them off for some other time. Time was not on my side, so extra sewing was to be minimized.
After many hours, things started to take shape...
...heart shapes to be exact.
But at this point (well, shortly before that), I realized that ALL of my flying geese (the waste-free ones) were about 1/8" too large. They always do this. I was hoping this time, with more careful sewing, I'd be okay and not have to trim.
Did I mention I didn't have time to waste? I started a monster on Wednesday, basically, and had to have it finished-finished by Sunday. With two more shifts at work and a doctor appointment in there, too. And sleep. Sleep is always good.
But I kept sewing. All day Wednesday. Until 12:30am on Thursday.
I ignored my hubby except when I sent him for lunch. I stopped to eat said lunch. I stopped to eat a quick dinner. I stopped to feed the cats a few times. But mostly, I was in my sewing room, earbuds plugged in, Green Day blasting.
I even sewed through a spool of thread...
...okay, okay, it wasn't a full spool to start with. But I MAY have sewn through an entire spool by the time I was done.
I had to work Thursday, but not until noon, so a late bedtime was okay.
About 9pm, I went downstairs to my cat-supervised design floor and layed out my blocks!
But this was not the end! Remember I stayed up another 3.5 hours? I got the ENTIRE TOP together. Sashing and borders. I was very cranky by this time. The cats were helping - Emma having a meltdown because I wouldn't sit down, Freddie attacking the "danger noodle" (iron cord) through the quilt as I was trying to press it, Lexie trying to knock everything off the shelf in front of where she remembers the catnip container is hiding (not that I've EVER given her any out of the container - for real) - it was not pretty.
But I put together an ENTIRE TOP in one day. I mean, there was a bit of time the night before spent cutting, but I was pretty proud of myself!
I allowed myself to sleep in until about 8:30 Thursday morning, but knew I needed to get up and go buy some fabric for the back of this quilt early. It needed to be washed, dried and folded before I left for work around noon. If I left it in the dryer - wrinkles galore! Another time eating problem I'd rather not bother with.
I found THE perfect back right away. Such a quick trip and home again to the washing machine! Things are looking up!
While that was washing, I decided my machine, which was acting up more and more (wacky thread breakages and such), probably needed to be cleaned out. It had been a while.
Holy moly! It sure did need cleaning! There were "felt pads" between the feed dogs of superior quality. With two brushes and a pointy tweezers, I got a LOT of fuzzies out of the innards of my machine.
SO much better!
And now, time to make some binding! I have a stash of leftover bits of binding, so I pulled all the usable red and pinks and measured and did some math. I needed about 4 more width-of-fabric strips, so I went back into the stash for that. I chose to do four different fabrics to keep it scrappy.
Sewed them (machine sounds and works SOOOO much better!), as well as piecing the back, and set them on the ironing board to await my next day off - Friday. Quilting day.
Is that not THE perfect fabric for the back? It's flannel, too, and washed up super snuggly.
Work lasted For. Ever. It was a slow night to begin with, but knowing I had this at home waiting for me made every minute torture.
After a trip to a less-than-local doctor appointment on bad roads in the morning, it was time to collect my parts and put them together.
Freddie helped inspect that I had done a good job prepping the longarm...
This is the first time since we brought him home in mid-December that this thing has moved. He's jumped up on the table and leapt through the large arm opening, but this was MOVING! Mom was moving the thing. (And he's not quite 4 months old, so EVERYTHING is fun.)
Freddie also tried to help load the backing. I clamped it onto the takeup leader and then, as I was trying to clamp the other end onto the backing leader, it created a large hammock-like drape of fabric. Do you know what's fun when you're a 3.5-month-old kitten? Belly flops into the drape of fabric. Wrestling the fabric. Burrowing into the fabric. Doing it again even when mom keeps hollering "NO!"
Freddie got a time out in the bathroom for a bit.
He wasn't in there long, but long enough for me to get the quilt loaded up and ready to go.
But I had to employ the spray bottle to deter Freddie-Don't-Chew-The-Batting-That's-Not-Food from destroying the batting that, until I quilted and rolled enough of the quilt, could be entirely up off the floor.
I decided to quilt this with a pale pink thread. It shows up in the sashing/borders and on the back, which are all white, but I think with this quilt, it's okay. And it's not THAT bad!
You can see here I decided to quilt hearts. Because why not with the overkill? I mean, if you're gonna make a Valentiney quilt, why not go ALL the way!
At this point I took a break for lunch. Everything was up off the floor and the batting was able to be trimmed away enough to hide from the batting-monster.
But do not be deceived by these photos and their lack of cats. Freddie continued to help. (The other cats wandered in every so often to inspect, but mostly because Emma told them it was time to eat, so they thought they'd check on that idea...if Emma had her way, she'd eat All. The. Time.)
This tiny beast. They've all walked the rails at one point or another, but this little guy is quite adept. He also likes to pounce from the table behind the quilt ONTO the quilt. You know, the part that you've stretched just taut enough so that your tension is perfect? Yeah, that part. He got tossed off the quilt more times than I care to remember. (But he's a tenacious one, so he kept doing it.)
And here he is, on the finished quilt, demonstrating his knowledge that this is the World's Most Expensive Cat Hammock. How a cat this young knows ALL the naughties is beyond me, but he sure does have a knack for them. (It's a good thing he's absolutely adorable and purrs his head off every time you try to scold him.)
Eventually I managed to get it off the frame, trimmed and the binding sewn down. I do the second side of binding by hand, so that was time spent snuggling kitties and watching some Netflix. I failed to take photos of that, but by Friday evening, I was kinda in a panic to get this done. I knew I had to work today and it's due to be entered fairly early tomorrow (I know noon doesn't sound early, but if you think about how many hours there are between getting up and noon versus noon and bedtime...it's early!), so I just kept sewing. The good thing is that by this time, Freddie had worn himself out, so he burrowed down next to me and crashed out for hours.
And tonight, I had planned to get a photo outside after work. The sun was shining all day. It was a beautiful (if not cold) day, perfect for photos.
Do you know what I forgot to do in haste to go get dinner with my (now on 2nd shift so I see much less of him) hubby? Yep. The photo.
So we did it inside, in my bedroom, which probably has the best unnatural lighting in the house. And the hubby obliged me to be the quilt holder. I mean, he'd been pretty much ignored since Tuesday night for this, so he might as well step in now and get it done so he could have his wife back, right?
I'm amazed that this photo (with just a tiny bit of color tweaking) shows the colors fairly accurately. (Some of the previous photos do not...)
So there you have my entry and the whole crazy story.
I did it.
I made an entire quilt in basically two days.
An ENTIRE quilt.
Not a little quilt. A big quilt.
And I L.O.V.E. it.
(But I still don't much care for Valentine's Day.)
You'd think I'd be burned out by now. Not interested in starting anything new. Or working on anything old either.
Nope. I'm raring to go.
A Left-Handed Quilter is doing a quilt along. And I've decided I might as well join in. Because, you know, why not? I contemplated participating earlier, but wasn't sure until inspiration hit me in the shower the other day (why do my best ideas happen there?)...I have a dot problem. Fabrics with dots are my weakness. I have quite a few. Including a big chunk of grey with white dots that would be a perfect background. I will make this quilt with my dot fabrics! (Now I just have to catch up...but first, maybe I should clean the bathroom and run the vacuum?)
So there you have it. My latest project and my next one, all in one post.
And I promise, now that I'm not on a tear to make the most impossible quilt, I'll try to get photos of the other four tops I've completed in the past few weeks. And blog about them. I mean, I have a bit more than a week until the next challenge prompt comes out!