Progress!

17 11 2014

Night Sky Quilt Top

I finished putting the Night Sky quilt top together on Friday evening. By then, due to our shorter days, there was no light to take photos. I had some time before leaving for work today, so I quickly threw the quilt down onto the snow and ran back upstairs to take a photo over the balcony.

My neighbors must think I’m insane.

Granny Square Swap Top Start

In other news, I did manage some progress on the Granny Block top, using the swap blocks I’d received. I still have a lot more blocks to make, but I didn’t feel like digging through my stash last night for aquas, greens and greys. Instead, I dug out of my scrap bucket.

Because the blocks didn’t all trim down to the same size, I’m using the setting triangles to equalize them. The blocks are finishing at 12.5″.

I’m using greys and creams from the scrap bucket, or smaller yardage stash to do the setting – I don’t want to cut into larger pieces for this project until I’ve exhausted my supply of smaller pieces of fabric.

This is also the reason I haven’t yet pieced all of the blocks I need to make up the difference between what I have and what I need. I want to go through the scrap bucket first.

I have a lot of scraps, though.

Because I’ve been lazy, and not cutting them down immediately. Usually, I cut my scraps into 5″, 3″, and 2.5″ squares, and then into strips for quick strip-piecing.

I haven’t done that in a while, so I have a bucket full of pieces that need to be ironed and then cut down, and not just in the required colors. I’m going to buckle down over this evening and next, and focus on that.

And not just for this project. I like to have a scrap project or two going, to use up what I’m generating in scraps.

Yes, that means I started another project.

Another Scrappy Project

I’ve had this EQ7 project for ages, intended to use up the 5″ and 2.5″ squares that I have pre-cut. Since I’m going through my scraps anyway, and starching this batch of scraps (such a difference in how nicely it all cuts down!), I decided I ought to use up some of the solids yardage I have hanging around from deciding to NOT do a Dear Jane.

I bought 20 yards of an ecru colored solid, which I don’t regret. The fabric is a neutral color. I can use it in everything! I just need to use it.

Another Scrap Project

So, it’s become the background solid for blocks like this. Pictured above are actually two halves – I’m attempting to ensure that a fabric is not repeated in the same block. I’m also not letting myself fret too much over the inclusion of creams, and how they kind of disappear into the background fabric. It’s a scrap quilt!

I need to starch and iron a lot more yardage of this solid fabric, so I can start on the alternate blocks, which should use up a lot of what I have sitting around in scraps.





Why I Don’t Do Swaps Anymore

16 11 2014

I started today with the intention of putting together a quilt top. Last night, in cleaning out some of my sewing space (which still needs a lot of organization!), I tripped over about 30 Granny Square blocks from a swap I participated in about a year ago. I’d stashed them away, and forgotten about them.

Since I’m still in a Go!Go!Go! Sew!Sew!Sew! phase, I decided I’d whip out a quilt top today, and began trimming these blocks down (I’d asked for them to come to me untrimmed, so that I could take that step myself).

By the time I was done trimming, I’d thrown NINE of these blocks away. In all fairness, I screwed up the trimming on one of them, and cut through a point. But the rest…

*sighs*

Now, let me just say that I’m a fairly anal-retentive sewist. I know this about myself.

I iron at nearly every step. I’ve just discovered the joys of starching the heck out of fabric, and how CRISP it makes my points and piecing. I change my needle at the end of every project, and change my rotary blades as soon as I feel myself pushing too hard on the cutter. I pay strict attention to my quarter inch seams, and unpick if my seam wobbles. I use the same brand of rulers on each project, and only use the markings on my rulers to determine where I cut – not the markings on the cutting mat. I make a test block, and then measure the test block to ensure that I’m producing according to the pattern / instructions.

The blocks I discarded…  Most of them weren’t acquainted with a quarter inch seam at all. Some would have failed a field sobriety test, the sewing was so wobbly. One block blatantly disregarded the swap rule to use Kona White as the background. Instead, I got a white background fabric that was so thin, I could see through it. Others yet, the blocks weren’t comprised of squares – they were comprised of trapezoids. (granny blocks, for your reference)

Quite frankly, I would have been ashamed to send them out, had I made them.

To say that I am frustrated is something of an understatement. Instead of being entirely done with a quilt top today, I have to make another twenty-five granny squares to be able to wrap this project, to match what I’d envisioned. If all of these blocks had been acceptable, I would have only needed to make half that.

It’s not the fact that I didn’t make the progress I wanted. It’s the fact that several someones out there thought these were acceptable to send out, not just to me, but probably to everyone else in my swap group.

And I know that many of those fellow sewists were planning on making gifts out of the quilts that would eventually result from these blocks. If I was disappointed at the blocks I got, for a quilt top for myself, how much more disappointed were these other sewists?

Now, a year out from this swap, it’s obviously too late for me to communicate to the swap organizer how disappointed I am, but the problems weren’t limited to this one swap. Prior to this year, I participated in many swaps. In most instances, I was highly disappointed by what I received versus what I sent out.

Rather than feeling more connected to a larger community of quilters and sewists, I felt (still feel) angry and irritated that I put such effort into producing quality work that I could be proud to send to someone else, and received so many poor quality blocks in return.

This batch of blocks just reinforced that sense of disenchantment, and strengthened my lack of desire to participate in swaps. I’d actually signed up to participate in Stash Bee 2015 (to start next year), and have withdrawn my participation because I don’t want to deal with the inevitable disappointment of putting forth effort for no return.





Sewing Like Mad!

15 11 2014

A quilt-along of the Night Sky quilt pattern by Camille Roskelley is being hosted by the lovely Jana Machado. Since I’m still feeling the effects of having my sewing mojo back, I jumped in.

The milestones of this particular quilt along are to have one row of each quilt done each week, with the goal of having the completed top done by December 5. I’ve not gotten any rows done yet, but I have finished all 44 blocks needed for this top.

Night Sky Progress 01

Night Sky Progress 02

Needless to say, I’m damned glad to be done piecing star blocks. These got very repetitive, and I found myself a little tweaked at the waste generated by this pattern if you followed the piecing instructions exactly as written. I also felt that some things should be explicitly called out, as I needed to go back and cut more fabric after I’d gone through the majority of the piecing.

Still, I was able to use up quite a few of my smaller cuts of grey, black and yellow fabrc – everything for this top was pulled from my stash. Really, it was the fact that the pattern called for so many fat quarters (28) that kind of sold me on participating. I had a ton of smaller remnants that would have just gone into my scrap bags, left over from piecing The Garden Party’s Quadrille.

As usual, it feels wonderful to use stuff that I have in my stash – I have enough fabric to make several quilt tops, and I haven’t held as true to my fabric diet this year as I should have. So, ‘wonderful’ really is something of an understatement.

I’ve also made significant progress on Swirling Sea of Stars:

Swirling Sea of Stars Progress

Last time this top was featured on this blog, I only had two rows done. I’m now up to four, though I know I’ve plenty in my scrappy strips tote for a few more projects. There’s going to be at least one more string top in my future. I just have to decide what, though that’s planning for another day. I’m hoping to be able to call this a completed quilt top by the end of the year – it’s very slow going because of the nature of the project.

Strings and paper-piecing take time, lots of it, and I’ve found that I don’t make significant progress if I use this as a leader/end project. Thus, I work on this one as I feel like expending a huge chunk of time on string blocks.

Now, I’m off to sew more. My plans for today include completing the Night Sky quilt top, making a few more string blocks, and making a return to the Winged Square quilt top.





High Tea Quilt Top

26 10 2014

I can finally share with you guys the completed High Tea Quit top, made from a pattern by Adrianne of On the Windy Side. Check out the post she’s written to mark the pattern’s release - she’s shared several different versions of this quit. The pattern is available on Craftsy and in Adrianne’s Etsy shop.

High Tea on Bridge

High Tea Quilt Top

This quilt top would be a great weekend project – even at the king-sized version. This is a great stash buster, and really lends itself to chain piecing.

I deliberately went for a restrained color palette, because I wanted to use up some of the oldest fabrics in my stash. I also wanted to use up some of the solids I have in my stash.

I’m very pleased with how it turned out, though I kept fussing over prints being too concentrated. I had to remind myself that I only pulled twelve prints – repetition was inevitable.

Now I’m looking forward to quilting it, and getting the quilt onto my bed. Hubby really likes the color palette, and is looking forward to another of my quilts to curl up in. I call that a win.





Pattern Testing – Sneak Peak

25 10 2014

A couple or so weeks ago, I volunteered to test a quilt pattern for a fellow blogger. I’ve worked on it in fits and starts, then realized yesterday that my deadline was coming due.

Now, I’m the kind of person who just loves deadlines. It makes me reach farther, work harder and faster.

Admittedly, most of the work is done at the 11th hour, as I’m watching the clock and shorting myself on sleep.

So, over the last two evenings, my sewing machine and I had a lot of quality time together, and I finished the top. In all fairness, I’d gotten to the halfway point before taking some time away from it, despite making the king-sized version of the top.

Pattern Testing - Fabrics

Before even having the pattern in my mailbox, I had an idea of what two fabrics to start with – they’re the two coordinating prints in the middle row, on the right. I also knew that I’d be using two Connecting Threads Solids, in gray and a very pale ecru color (I’d give specific names, but I believe that the ecru-colored fabric is discontinued). From there, I mixed and matched, going for a more gender neutral color palette. I was thinking that this quilt should go on hubby’s and my bed.

High Tea Sneak Peak

Once the pattern is published in a few days, I’ll publish some photos of the full top. I have a plan for the quilting. I just need to figure out the backing and binding.





Back from Indianapolis

24 08 2014

Okay, so I’ve actually been back since Sunday, 17 August, but this is the first that I’ve been able to sit and write.

We returned on Sunday evening, getting home around 11:00 PM. When I woke up Monday morning, I had a sinus infection. I was down and out through Tuesday, and only dragged myself to work on Wednesday, because I knew there was a meeting I had to attend. I got through the required meeting, and my boss was kind enough to send me home.

Thursday and Friday then were a lot of catch up at work and at home, since I was so behind, from being on vacation and being sick.

I spent a good part of yesterday on the road between home and Milwaukee – Dad’s lawn needed mowing, so we drove there for me to take care of the yard and so he could get his mail. That was after walking 4 miles with Sandi in the morning. After getting home from Milwaukee and a trip to Sam’s club, I prepped meat to go into the freezer. Dad had purchased two large packages of chicken breasts, and a 6 pound pork loin. The chicken breasts were either cut up for stir fry/soups or butterflied and frozen flat for grilling/cooking whole. The pork loin, I cut into loin chops.

All in all, we have meat for six meals after that shopping trip, and that was after I’d prepped another meat purchase for the freezer. We also have two bags of pork cut up for stir fries/soup. My freezer is super full.

So Full!I call this proof that I desperately need to invest in an apartment-sized chest freezer sooner rather than later. I’m going to have to get rid of the ice cream to fit anything else into there…

We took another walk this morning, this time reaching 4.5 miles over the course of our morning walk. Long walks are not a big deal anymore, not after GenCon. I figure I walked a minimum of six miles a day while in Indianapolis.

So, anyway… GenCon was fun. I’m tentatively planning to go again next year, though I intend to make the arrangements myself, rather than rely on someone else to reserve the hotel room.

I took two belly dancing classes, and LOVED it. I’m determined to try and continue to learn to belly dance. The classes were taught by Margaret of Different Drummer Belly Dance. She did a wonderful job of making it approachable and fun. I’m also thrilled by how diverse the members of the troupe were, insofar as body types were concerned. I loved that someone curvier and heavier could be successful and beautiful at belly dance.

Different Drummer Belly Dance

I didn’t have a lot of “must-do” items on my GenCon list. The belly dancing classes were on it. Also on it was visiting Crimson Tate, a modern quilt shop in downtown Indy.

Crimson Tate Interior I

Crimson Tate Interior II

Crimson Tate Interior III

Crimson Tate Interior IV

Crimson Tate Interior V

The shop was lovely, and the staff were great. I loved the fact that there were so many fabrics on hand that I’d only been able to see online previously (shops here in Janesville tend more toward Civil War and flour sack reproductions).

So, of course, I couldn’t visit a shop in another city without buying fabric:

Crimson Tate Fabric Haul

From left to right:
1.) Cotton + Steel Basics, Dottie in Jean Jacket

2.) Cotton + Steel Basics, Dottie in Grapes

3.) Cotton + Steel Mustang, Single Border Stars in Gold

4.) Mormor by Lotta Jansdotter

5.) Merry Mustaches in White, by Caleb Gray Studio

6.) Cotton + Steel Basics, XOXO in Gold

Honestly, I didn’t actually intend to pick up so much Cotton + Steel. I actually dislike the vast majority of this particular line of fabrics. It has some excellent basics though, and in navy and mustard! And I couldn’t leave without that rich purple.

Also while at Gencon, I did a Haunted Indianapolis walking tour, as well as a tour of the Scottish Rites Masonic Cathedral in Indy, which was an amazing building. I have some photos, not as many as I would like… The batteries in my camera died a quarter of the way through the tour of the Cathedral, leaving me with the option of my camera phone, which just does NOT take great pictures. If we return next year, I will re-do this tour, and take much better pictures. I’m half tempted to volunteer to actually assist with the tour, but we’ll see. 

I’d intended to do a walking tour of the War Memorial Trail in Indy, and had actually booked it. Unfortunately, it came down to a choice of the tour or hitting up Crimson Tate. You can tell what won, right?

I’m mostly looking forward to GenCon next year, though I’m definitely planning to arrive the day before it officially opens, so that I can get my event tickets well ahead of the events starting. I might actually give into the gaming geek in me more than I did this year.





Failing…

10 08 2014

I’m going to share a secret with ya’ll…

If I reach a point in a project where I feel it’s past redemption, I throw it away. 

So, yes, this means that I’ve thrown away quilt tops and even quilt sandwiches with quilting in them.

Why? Because it’s not worth the tears and frustration of trying to ‘fix’ whatever the problem was.

Take, for instance, the quilt top that would have been called Semi-phores:

Completed Top - From an Unquiet Mind I

I’ve put about ten hours of straight line quilting into it, nearly reaching the halfway point. But, I’m getting rid of it.

I know, it seems crazy, right?

Well, I started quilting it in echo quilting meant to give it more definition. Then I realized that the quilting was created pulling and puckering, so I ripped out what I’d done:

From an Unquiet Mind - Quilting Started

And then I started again. I decided to ‘just’ do zigzags. Not quickly enough, I realized that quilting the top this way was distorting it, turning the whole sandwich into a zigzag:

Failure

Yes, the sandwich is laying as flat as I could make it. *headdesk*

I don’t think any amount of blocking is going to save this quilt.

So, rather than get more irritated at myself for royally screwing up this project, I’m going to be glad I worked out of my stash for this one, rather than buying anything (except for the batting). And then I’m going to take the remaining pins out of it, and shove it in the garbage.

After that, I’m going to switch out sewing machines, (I was doing this on my industrial machine) and do some piecing to make me feel even better.

EDIT: Dad talked me into ‘donating’ the half quilted thing to the cats as a new cat bed. I folded it into quarters and put in front of the screen door, a favorite lounging spot for the kitties. It was claimed within five minutes. I guess at least it wasn’t a complete waste.








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