It's time to vote again! This is the fifth of six challenges and again, anyone with computer access can vote for their ten favorites!
My quilt is #11 and you can read more about it in my previous blog post. (If you haven't already!) As always, there are a number of amazing entries, but you have until Friday to decide how to use those ten votes.
Meanwhile, remember the blue squirrel from last January/February? That link takes you to the start of it, so you'll have to keep reading to see the whole quilt if you don't remember!
While I was working on straight(ish)-line matchstick quilting on my challenge piece, the squirrel started hollering again. I knew my Rack of Shame was getting overloaded and I know it's better to use the longarm in the cooler months, but I'm pretty good at procrastinating. But I talked myself into quilting it. In part because of a charity thing (that I'll talk more about shortly) that I needed smaller pieces of batting to complete. And all I had was two king-size batts. And it was easier to cut out a 72x72" piece than a 36x36" piece. (Probably.)
So I decided I would quilt the blue squirrel. On Thursday last week. And maybe on Friday, I would quilt the graduation quilt. Because time is ticking for that one...
After some chores and such on Thursday...and finding my backing was NOT pieced as I thought...I got the quilt loaded.
The colors here look fairly true. It was midday and sunny, so good natural lighting.
And I decided to do custom-ish quilting. Swirl hooks in the blue and just wiggly lines (for lack of a better term) in the grey/black/white.
This all sounded good in my head.
But those swirl hooks in small places take a lot of maneuvering and my elbow particularly was getting tired. And it took nearly six bobbins. And about 6 hours.
This is an in-progress shot that shows the quilting. Sort of. I am not entirely happy with it, but having my nose right in there didn't help. I'm hoping it grows on me, but every time I look at the quilt, I still see that up-close view. No matter how far away I get! (And it didn't go as smoothly or easily as I had imagined in my head.)
I had intended, after quilting and trimming, to sew the binding on (prepared shortly before I started quilting) and maybe even start the hand-sewing side.
It was 9pm by the time I got to that point. My elbow hurt. My whole body was sore. (I even remembered to wear good shoes!) I needed to rest. And sleep. So I did.
Friday I tackled the binding!
First the machine half.
Not without help.
I found other things to do Friday, so this just got folded up and set on the end of the ironing board (my cats all agreed that was a GREAT idea for a cat bed!), awaiting me for the next step. Again, I'll share the other project soon, but let's finish the squirrel first, okay? (Right, right...focus on the squirrel!)
I had to work Saturday, and had a meeting at the crack of dawn Sunday at work (who schedules a 7am meeting on a Sunday the SAME DAY we lose an hour because of Daylight Saving Time?)...but it got me up and early and chores done, so when the hubby left for work (it was his weekend in the rotation), I was able to plunk down on the couch, request some Gilmore Girls from Netflix, don my thimble and bind, bind, bind!
Not without help.
Or more help.
The other three cats also did their part, but did not burrow or fall asleep, they just tried to steal pins, demanded pets and generally behaved in an annoying manner for a short while.
But I did finish! It was about 7pm last night and as I looked up, I realized it was still light out! I hate the time change, particularly the one that loses an hour of sleep, but it was very nice to not be in darkness so early any more!
Yet, it was not light enough for good photos. Also, the 25mph winds with worse gusts were not helpful. So today I headed outside. Still windy, but nothing like yesterday. (But I'm not complaining because I am instead hopeful that these winds will evaporate all the melted snow puddles that come with spring so we can have less mud and less icy patches due to overnight temps dropping.)
I ended up pinning it to the fence that encloses the outdoor cat playland because the winds were enough that I wasn't able to get a less-action-y shot of the quilt for you all on the clothesline.
The blue squirrel is complete!
My inspiration came from a photo I found on Pinterest. There were no instructions and no pattern mentioned, so I developed my own. My quilt is far bigger than the original, but that's what I wanted. I wanted a quilt for my couch (or my new couch that I will soon need because I can't help myself!) It finishes 72" x 72" and sadly, I forgot to take a photo of the back. Okay, okay, I'll go take one...
It looks kinda like a batik, but it's not. It's flannel! Snuggly, cozy, fluffy flannel. I think that helped keep Emma happy and sleepy for so many hours as I worked.
(And you can see my grey couch. I had a red one before and while that was super fun, it also did not lend itself well to my colorwheel of quilts. Grey seemed like a safer choice. And the hubby, being that type of boring man who wears only black shoes and grey shirts and the like, was happy to oblige my color choice.)
So yay for a finished squirrel AND a reduction in the Rack of Shame.
The mid-weekend project was a dolly quilt. I have a little list in my sewing room of random projects that need to be done. I add a thing or two every time I cross one off. And they're things like "pink pinwheels" or "green HSTs" that remind me of stuff that needs to be made into something. The bag and dolly quilt made from the pink pinwheels was one from the list. These are items that are easily overlooked in the pursuit of other, larger, more demanding projects, but my sewing space is becoming littered with their kind and something needs to be done. So this little list helps me have direction when I walk into the room with no particular agenda.
The current item at the top of the list are the green "lost corners" left from my green X-Plus quilt that I made the blocks for at retreat earlier this year. There are a LOT of them. Each block lost 8 corners. And there are 49 blocks. I'm not going to do the math. I don't want to know.
So I started looking around the internet, hoping for something OTHER than pinwheels. It seems that's my go-to for these little units and I wanted something more interesting. I also knew I had some that were green-grey, some that were green-white, some that were green-black, some that were grey-black, and some that were grey-white. Now, with 8 of each set, I could make two pinwheels of each colorway, but nope.
I happened across a few photos that looked like twisted ribbons that looked interesting. And then I thought maybe I could grade the colors a little for a bit of an ombre look?
But there's a process one must go through when doing cat-assisted quilt layouts...
Assess the changes
Yes, he dragged the cat bed ACROSS the project. And then, when I moved it far enough away, he promptly plopped down in it and took a half-upside-down nap. (That I failed to photograph because I was trying to get these pieces together BEFORE he woke up and could start again.)
That was kinda midway through sewing, so let's see the original versions...
I liked this, but still had lots of squares left over. No more dark/dark, so I couldn't add another column, but perhaps...
Ooooh! I like that fading back to grey at the top. It adds a little interest...and used a few more squares...
Each of these squares still needed to be trimmed (1.75" before sewing) and then carefully sewn in the right direction. Then pressed, also in the right direction for ease of assembly later.
I managed to get all of the columns sewn before bedtime, but had to put books and such over the unsewn portions while I ate dinner. Because the cats, of course, have their own ideas about how quilts should be arranged. (Unfortunately, the two pictured above, my biggest helpers, are not nearly as noisy as Luka - he always mewed loudly at it as he worked...and alerted me to the danger lurking!)
Look how much that shrinks after trimming and sewing! Holy cow! But I knew what size it was going to be when it finished, so this wasn't too worrisome.
Once the columns were sewn into units (hubby said they look like tank tracks, I think it maybe looks a bit like a DNA molecule), I started wondering if I should add sashing. A good black-grey ombre fabric would be great here, but I am NOT buying more fabric for a project that is supposed to be using up fabric!
So let's do an audition!
I thought green would be too much, so maybe something totally different like blue or red? Nope, not once I saw it through the lens of the camera. The grey was my favorite of the bunch, but still seemed to break up the ombre-ness that was present, so I decided to just full-steam ahead sew the columns units together.
And then quilt it!
My original idea was to echo the green design about 1/4" inside. But after realizing how many seams there were in places, and knowing my little machine would probably throw a few temper tantrums (I might, too...), I decided simpler was better and went with a horizontal line through the centers of all the half square triangle units. I debated doing vertical lines, too, but decided it was held together enough for a dolly quilt and there was no reason to tempt fate with further opportunities for puckers!
I dug through my stash of leftover binding, knowing I wanted green, hoping to find something, but expecting to either have to piece something or cut something new. What I found was a green (a little darker than I envisioned) piece that was the perfect length. Truly, I cut off less than two inches when joining the ends! (Almost sadly, the fabric is in the quilt.)
This was also bound during the marathon yesterday, but took far less time...
It measures 15.75" x 18.5" and I'm glad to have these, um, 168 half square triangles out of my stash. But there are more where that came from. (Anyone want them?)
Leftover fish from the blue heart quilt!
And FINALLY, the charity thing I mentioned way at the beginning. The one that needed batting. Last year at this time, I was getting ready to give my notice at work. But I was still working. A lot of hours. And I was still stressed out and not doing much most days. But I WAS reading blogs. I came across Confessions of a Fabric Addict's charity quilt challenge and thought it was a wonderful idea. But there was no way I could participate. I found it late and was working and you know the string of excuses... But I decided I would think forward and be ready for this year. Perhaps even donate all on my own to Jack's Basket - one of the chosen charities that hit close to home for me.
Being an excellent procrastinator, I managed to get a couple of quilts made...in varying stages of finished-ness...yet never sent them out. The actually finished ones. That didn't stop me from making more...
As the year went on, I focused on making quilts from scraps that would finish the requested 36x36" size requested by Jack's Basket. These went fairly fast and, well...
...apparently I have four more to quilt. Two are done-done. So I'll have six to send!
This year, I'm ready. I have the time. I have tops ready and batting ready and should be able to find enough for the backs of these in my stash.
I signed up for the challenge.
And now what am I doing?
(But this is better than contemplating a bin of about 300 more green/grey half square triangles that need trimming and sewing...)
Truthfully, I have about two months before they're officially due, but I should be able to have these in the mail way before then. Okay, I WILL. You all heard me say that, right? I believe the word I'm looking for here is "accountabilibuddy"...
So now, it's time to go find backs.
But first, a few more cat photos. Because I can't leave you without those, can I?
First up, Freddie helped put away groceries again this week. I think he would have climbed in the cupboard if there had been room. This was after he wrestled the crunchy bag into submission. (I forgot the reusable blue bags you saw last week on account of the meeting at work that started so early it might as well have been the day before - not to worry, these work great for litterbox scoopings.)
And then there's Gabby. I put this oversize chair in my sewing room when we moved in. Thinking it would be nice to sit and read or sew bindings on while lounging in it. It has a nice ottoman, too. Well. The chair part was promptly claimed by the cats and the ottoman claimed by ongoing projects. Every so often I remove and wash the blanket and vacuum the chair, but it is not safe to sit in unless you'd like to look like a cat when you get up. Even after thorough, vigorous vacuuming. It's just beyond help. Plus, it turns out, there is no television up there, so one can't watch Netflix while binding. And that is fairly key to keeping ones sanity while doing the repetitive task of sewing binding onto all 437 sides of a quilt. (That, strangely enough, only has four when I'm done with it.)
Time to go find backings. Make hay while the sun shines because that light bar is not nearly as good at night. (Having to go on a wild goose chase for a flashlight while working on the blue squirrel so I could figure out why my machine - just two passes and 1.5 bobbins away from done - wouldn't sew...lint in the bobbin case is hard to see in the darkness of under a quilt...)