Sampler Shenanigans and Other Sewing

20 04 2014

Piracy Warninghttp://greycatquilts.com

In a bout of ‘darn it, I want to do this!’, I finally broke down and bought twenty yards of gray solid fabric from Connecting Threads.

Yes, you read that right. TWENTY YARDS.

It arrived on Thursday, and I managed to ignore it for most of the evening after work. I couldn’t take it, though, and at about 11:00 PM, I decided that I would sew instead of sleep. Three hours later, I had two complete Dear Jane blocks.

A-1 Pinwheel Gone Awry

A-2 One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

They’re not perfect, but pretty good for 5″ finished blocks. Regardless, I’m thrilled with the way the orange and purple glow off the grey.

Continuing the mood to be making something other than scrap blocks, I then decided that I wanted to make another sampler. So, I started going through my quilting books, pretty sure I’d purchased a Jennifer Chiaverini sampler book at some point. I had, but as I was looking through it, I was distinctly not thrilled with it. (I keep looking at the Gypsy Wife Sampler by Jennifer Kingwell, though.)

So, I decided to just make 6″ blocks until I’m happy with the number, and then figure out a setting when I get there. I have enough quilt block reference books that choosing blocks shouldn’t be a problem. I started with Jinny Beyer’s The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns and made the following three blocks through Saturday. I’m just picking fabrics from my stash. The only consistency that I want is that each block have a grey or black neutral fabric in it.

Sampler Shenanigans 01 - Arrowhead Puzzle

Sampler Shenanigans 02 - Cheyenne

Sampler Shenanigans 03 - Windmill

I also completed another 12″ X 18″ scrappy panel, for a future place mat. These go quickly when they’re my leader/ender sewing.

Placemat 02

My big project for Saturday was the reorganization of my sewing area. I’d added a wireless printer to my setup with the new year, and due to the way my cutting/iron/stuff table was situated, I lost half the table to wasted space. The ‘stuff’ was also taking over.

So, I got tired of it, and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I started reorganizing my space. It took a good part of the day, especially when it came time to put all of my fabric back in the cabinet it had come out of (there was no way I was moving the cabinet while it was full – fabric’s HEAVY!)

Sewing Space Redone

When all was said and done, my sewing space feels a lot more open, and is a lot more useful. I can just swivel on my stool to access cutting station, ironing station and sewing machine. My printer is in arm’s reach, but isn’t wasting space. I added a thread rack to the wall, on which I’m only storing my Connecting Threads spools. I don’t use anything else for piecing, and it’s rare that I use something else for quilting. The bottom row of the spool rack is reserved for bobbins at the moment, though I might add a smaller rack for that purpose.

Regardless, I’m very pleased with my progress for the weekend. I plan to do more sewing today, though. It feels good to just being sewing.





Coming Back Round

9 04 2014

Piracy Warning

http://greycatquilts.com

I meant to get back here sooner than this, but I’ve been insanely busy.

Back in February, I shared some frustrations I’d been experiencing with work. I’d been reallocated to a different area in my department, and the students I’d been working with had been transitioned to another supervisor.

That supervisor was a close friend of mine, and due to some poor ethical choices, is no longer with with my organization or the university. His choices first came to light in late February, and he was placed on administrative leave at that time. By mid-March, the decision was made that he would no longer be with the university.

So, since late February, I’ve been trying to fulfill two roles. The role I transitioned into, and taking over the Helpdesk once more. It’s been crazy and hectic. In one two week period, I put in 120 hours of work, to try to keep up, because that conversion project I mentioned hasn’t gone away. I think we’re finally coming up on the end of it, but the final end could still be a month away.

I’ve got my students back, which is great, because they are wonderful, bright people, and seem much more settled now that I’m back in the seat as their day-to-day manager. Unfortunately, I’m not as hands on as I want to be right now, due to aforementioned conversion project and attempting to actively fill two positions. I’m incredibly grateful to be back in this role with them. The talks I’ve had with individual student employees about how things were while I was gone have convinced me that they were not doing well.

In the meantime, I finally did some things to take care of myself. My annual gynecological exam for one, with a new gynecologist. Choosing a new primary care physician for another.

I saw both of these physicians in the space of about one week.

Both of them felt the need to address my weight. The gynecologist labeled me ‘obese’, while the primary care physician labeled me ‘morbidly obese.’

I’m furious. Crazy pissed off.

I’m overweight. I will admit that without an issue. I’ve known it for a long time, and have been controlling my diet for quite some time. I spent a good portion of last year working out three or four times a week, on top of the food intake management, without the scale budging at all.

The exercise fell off with the last quarter of 2013 – the person I had been working out with (coincidentally the supervisor mentioned above), stopped going and winter made me sluggish. My own fault, I know, for having lost my motivation.

My problem is the inclusion of the qualifier ‘morbidly’. I do not believe myself to be morbidly obese. The extra weight that I have does not in any way limit my mobility. I can still touch my toes, without effort, for crying out loud. I consistently have excellent blood pressure at every checkup. I eat healthfully and try to be mindful of my water intake.

But because current health standards insist on using Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine a ‘healthful’ weight, I’m morbidly obese.

The use of the BMI scale infuriates me. Despite changes to the index in recent years, BMI remains a woefully deficient manner in which to determine a person’s healthful weight range, as it only takes into account two factors: height and weight.

I stand at 5’3”. According to BMI, I should not weigh more than 110 pounds.

I don’t recall there ever being a time that I weighed so little. It must have been before I entered high school, before I ever worried about my weight.

BMI fails to take into consideration several factors, like bone density, muscle build, actual percentage of body fat. Nor does it take into consideration age. This scale consistently tells athletes that they are overweight, despite having higher muscle mass and lower body fat. On the other hand, an elderly person may be told that they are appropriately ‘thin’, though they have replaced muscle with fat as they age and become less active.

So, once again, I am limiting my daily caloric intake to 1500 calories (though I did not typically exceed that before counting calories). I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables, increased my intake of water. When I want a soda, I drink diet root beer, and only one per day. I have only one cup of coffee per day. I’ve also started hitting the gym again, and purchased weights and a jump rope so that I can exercise at home when I cannot go to the gym.

I’ve been doing this since March 25, when I saw the new primary care physician. I have an appointment with a dietitian in two weeks. We’ll see what gets said then. I’m not sure to expect much.

In brighter news, I have been sewing!

Swirling Sea of Stars has three complete rows now. Still slow going, because of the very scrappy nature of the piecing. I’ve gotten a total of four blocks made, one of which was to replace a stained block. Looks like I need to make another replacement, since I found another stain.

Four Scrappy Stars

I’ve been in a very scrappy mood lately – I think because working in scraps is fairly mentally freeing for me – no real thought, just piecing as I pick up fabric. I decided to start on a set of scrappy place mats, just piecing fabric together as it fits together. My goal is to get to 12.5″ X 18.5″ panels of scraps. I got to one full-sized panel, but don’t plan to quilt it until I have a set of six panels:

Placemat 01

I think I’ll quilt these with straight lines – sort of  ‘keep it simple, stupid’. I could practice FMQ on these, but I’d rather do that on ugly fabric I hate.

I’ve also finally opened my Etsy shop, so my sewing tends to be split between piecing and dolls right now.

Grey Cat Handmade

This is actually a thing! I spent an entire Saturday afternoon taking good photographs of the three dolls and the clothes that are currently in the shop. I’m planning to spend some time expanding the stock – I’m hoping the shop becomes a source of additional income. I’ve invested in ‘thank you’ labels, to affix to the bags that will contain the dolls and the clothes. I’ve also invested in some more fabrics to make more dolls, and lots of safety eyes and noses.

Eventually, I will actually finish something for myself… I just need to get my butt moving on basting a top or two.





About Content

7 04 2014

Piracy Warning

Today, it came to my attention that the content of some of my favorite bloggers is being posted without their consent to another webpage. Curious, I decided to find out if my content was also being posted without permission.

Much to my dismay it was.

I’m extremely disappointed, though not extremely surprised. There will always be someone else looking to profit off someone else’s work.

Due to this site posting my original content, in its entirety (completely violating Fair Use), each one of my blog posts will now have the image you see above. I’ve also changed my RSS feed so show only a summary of each post. I want to stop the content scraping, but until it gets resolved, I want individuals visiting the offending web page to see that they’re supporting someone unscrupulous. When I have some time this weekend, I’m going to put together a copyright violations notice for godaddy.com, the hosting service for the webpage in question.

I’ve put a lot of time and effort, and some money into putting this blog out there in the world. I’m not going to let someone just walk away with my hard work.





Finally Catching Up

20 02 2014

I promised this post a  bit ago, but then everyone in my house started falling ill. I’m sick for the second time in two weeks, but I don’t want to miss more work, because I have so much to do!

Sewing has been slow, mostly because sitting up without being feverish or dizzy has been a challenge :P

I did manage a few things last month, though…

I made up a mini-quilt, for Doll Quilt Swap 14:

Sweet Little Dream House
Paper-pieced, obviously. Those log cabin blocks finish at 2″ each, and the house was a 6″ block. My partner was amber_crawley, and I sent along a bunch of charm squares from my scraps stash. I didn’t think to photograph that.

I tried some new things with this mini-quilt: double layer of batting for some loft, and free motion quilting on my home machine. I used the Fabulous Fabric Glide (mentioned in my last post), and it made a huge difference! I’m excited to try FMQ with the Fabulous Fabric Glide and my new SewSlip.

I even remembered to piece in a label:

DQS14 Back
You can see how shaky the FMQ is from the backside, but I’m still pleased that it worked as well as it did.

I also managed to finished something that had been languishing a couple of months:

Plastic Bag Dispenser
Yeah, it’s a quilted plastic bag dispenser. I got really tired of the bag of bags we had, and how nasty it looked hanging in our hall, so I whipped up what was essentially a mini-quilt from my three-inch square scraps, added some fabric I hated to make the elasticized ends and handle, threw on a button, and was done. It could have been one of those ‘done in a day’ things, but I stopped before I put the handle and button on.

It sat for three months, just waiting for that handle and button.

Yes, I do know how sad that is.

Since I was sort of on a roll with finishing things, I decided that I’m not starting anything new until I wrap up all the WIPs I have all around my sewing area. The quilt tops count, too. I will probably spend the next year doing nothing but revisiting projects, but that’s all right.

As part of my new found resolution, I got out the paper-piecing foundations for Swirling Sea of Stars, and started working on blocks. I only actually finished one, but that’s okay. I’ve at least six in progress. They’re not really that slow to come together. I’m just trying to vary the prints used in each star.

Scrappy Star 20
So, one down, and I don’t know how many more to go. I’m going until it’s the ‘right’ size, whatever that is, or I run out of scraps. I’m thinking that it’ll get to the right size first.





And Back…

12 02 2014

I know… I’ve been missing a while…

At the beginning of the year, my department underwent a organizational restructuring. I agree with the need for the restructuring, and really want to see this initiative succeed… I ended up being laterally moved, and have a new supervisor, and a new manager. Both of these individuals are great people, and I really love working them them…

Problem is, I no longer manage the area that I’d been handling for the last two and a half years.

Initially, it wasn’t a big deal – I was excited by the challenges of tackling my new job duties and really making my new area succeed.

Trouble is – I missed my old area. I managed a large number of student employees, and really tried to provide quality mentoring and guidance. I worked really hard to find a balance between mothering them, being a role model, and being a supervisor. I advocated for these kids, because I hired them, and not necessarily for the skills they could bring to my area, but for the potential I saw in them. These individuals are all smart, adaptable, wonderful people, each with their own personality quirks foibles, making them a real joy and challenge to work with.

With the change in my job duties, I lost the constant interaction with these student employees, and they’re now being managed by someone else.

I miss my kids.

I miss them, and I wish I could do more for them, but I’m elsewhere in the organization, and have to focus on succeeding where I am.

On top of this, a very large conversion project is on my plate, and I’m attempting not to stress it, but DAMN! Our deadline is going to give me white hairs. Especially since this particular project must be done in conjunction with placing, receiving, and scheduling new computer setups.

So, for January, I pretty much shut down to just working, and fiction writing. I didn’t even have the desire to sew. And that lasted a while. I had the hardest time in bringing myself to finish my mini-quilt for Doll Quilt Swap 14, which sucked, because I’d been really looking forward to participating.

This state of mind lasted until this past weekend. In fact, I skipped February’s Stitch ‘N’ Bitch, because I woke up the day of, and just wanted to crawl back into bed. Then I worked at my second job the next day, when the first thing I did that day was throw up. Then I tried to go to primary job on Monday, and only made it through 1:00 PM. I called in today, just trying to beat this stupid cold. So, yeah, good thing I didn’t go to Stitch ‘N’ Bitch – I would have been Typhoid Mary. Even better that at primary job I DON’T have that constant interaction with students. I’d have set off a chain reaction of people getting sick.

Somehow, through all of this, I managed to finish my DQS 14 mini-quilt for my partner, and sent it out only slightly after deadline. This past Saturday, despite not being at Stitch ‘N’ Bitch, I sat at my sewing machine, and picked up a project I hadn’t worked on since June of 2013.

So, sewing is a thing again, and, wow, it feels good. I’m still sort of bummed, but I’m really tired of wallowing, and watch to finished some stuff. So, I have a printer arriving sometime tomorrow, to be followed by more thread and more paper for foundation piecing. I also have a new 1/4″ foot and more bobbins coming. I’ve actually worn out my current 1/4″ foot – the metal bar that the shank clips onto is falling out! I also ordered tools for machine quilting, the Fabulous Fabric Glide, which I’ve already used, and the SewSlip, which I have not.

I would have ordered books, because Connecting Threads had their 40% off sale, but not one book in their selection told me that I had to own it. Who needs project books when one has EQ7 and at least three block reference books? Not this girl.

So, yeah, I’m back. And I’m going to try to not let it be another month before I post, which should actually be easy. I have some finishes to share. One more photo to take, and I’ll be back tomorrow.





Last Finishes of 2013

1 01 2014

I’ll save my ‘holy crap – it’s 2014!’ post for tomorrow… Since I’ve been lax in posting over the last month, I wanted to share the last finishes of the year with you. I’m lucky enough to have a job in which I’m paid to be off on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. We spent a lot of that time hosting friends and family over, so I did a lot of cooking.

For Christmas, we didn’t host. Instead, we went to my mother-in-law’s home for dinner. I’d hosted Thanksgiving, so I didn’t really mind not preparing the massive meal. I think, though, next year, I will insist on hosting, if only because we have more space.

For New Year’s Eve, we hosted the third annual Nilbog New Year, at our home. No idea what Nilbog is? Watch Troll 2, which is possibly one of the worst movies made ever. Then follow it up with Best Worst Movie. Basically, hubby and I invite our friends over for a themed party, to watch Troll 2, and eat green colored foods. This year, we mixed things up a bit, and watched the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra as well. For food, I made French onion dip (adding green food coloring), spinach and artichoke dip, served sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas, and made shepherd’s pie. I dyed the mashed potatoes on top of the shepherd’s pie green, as well. We also made double-decker bologna sandwiches for the climax of the movie, which were a huge hit.

So, yeah, there was a lot of time in the kitchen, and a lot of time dedicated to cleaning up the house. Hubby also rearranged furniture before New Year’s Eve, freeing up some space in my sewing area. I took advantage of the free space and moved things about, to give us better flow. Once I finished that, though, I wanted, desperately, to have a new ironing board.

Now, I’ve resisted buying a new ironing board. A standard ironing board is pretty well useless for me, because it’s so narrow, and I just don’t iron clothing much any longer. Everything I buy is wash and wear.

At the same time, I’ve been sitting on a yard of aluminized fabric, meant for an ironing board cover for two years. Yup, TWO years. I bought it September of 2011, at the WI Quilt Expo.

I finally figured that two years was enough, so I roped hubby into accompanying me to Menard’s. There, I purchased a 2′ X 2′ square of plywood, a home-use staple gun, and 1/4″ staples. When I got it home, I laid two layers of batting on, followed by the aluminized fabric, and stapled it to the board. I probably should have stopped, and taken some in progress photos, for anyone who wants to make one themselves. Seriously, though, it’s super easy!

Ironing Board

After that, I decided that I should start making more stock for my eventual Etsy shop, so I made another couple of softies:

Mouse Softie 01
Mouse Softie 02

Zeb picked out the fabrics for this one – I left my fabric cabinet open and he insisted on these. All in all, not bad choices. I deviated a bit, and used brown safety eyes with black pupils, instead of solid black safety eyes. I think they work well here, with the softer, creamier color palette. The ears on this softie are a bit floppy, when following the instructions. I will likely add batting or interfacing to the next mouse, to keep them upright.

Monster Softie 01

Monster Softie 02
And this is where I get a lot of pleasure from making softies… Sometimes I end up with fabric that I just do not know what I’d do with. I do most of my patchwork in tone-on-tones, or small prints. Bold, graphic prints are fun for large blocks, or backings, but I only had about half a yard of this on hand. It was practically destined to be come a softie. Again, I used the brown safety eyes with the black pupils. I think they stand out better here, than if they’d been solid black.

Both of these softies are stuffed more firmly than my previous attempts – I love it. In order to accommodate that extra stuffing, I had to alter my construction methods a bit. It adds a bit to the finishing, in the way of hand-sewing, but I think it’s a trade-off worth making.

Linking to Lynne’s Fresh Sewing Day post.

Lily's Quilts




Because I Like to Torture Myself…

2 12 2013

A new fabric fast has been popping up on a few of the blogs I follow. And because I’m a) a glutton for punishment, b) determined to use stash, and c) determined to save money, I’m hopping on board. I’ve added the button to the right side of my blog – feel free to join us if you’d like to challenge yourself to slimming down your stash.

I know I need to be better about refraining… It’s the holiday season, and due to unforeseen circumstances at work, I’ll be taking home a little less every paycheck until certain things get ironed out. Taking part in this fabric fast means that I won’t be indulging in my usual tax refund splurge for fabric, but that’s honestly a good thing.

I’m running out of space to store fabric.

And that’s not a good thing.

I live in a two bedroom apartment with my husband, son and two cats. My fabric stash cannot exceed certain limits, or things get messy and chaotic faster than I like, and tend to stay that way.

So, the rules of the fast are as follows, as posted at The Eleven Garden:

FABRIC FAST RULES:
1.) No fabric purchases for 6 months beginning January 1, 2014.   
2.) At 6 months reevaluate status and decide whether to keep going for full year.  Evaluation July 1, 2014.
3.) Create a UFO list and complete them!
4.) Exceptions:
  • Backing: purchasing a backing to finish a quilt top is permissible.  However, attempting to use fabric in your possession for a backing is preferable.
  • Books and Magazine purchases are allowed as they are not fabric.  Notions acceptable too.
  • Swap Mama Fabric: if hosting a swap you are permitted to by fabric to execute swap duties, but you may not join a swap simply for the sake of being able to buy fabric!
  • Quilts for Publication: if you are making a quilt for a publication and need certain fabric to execute it correctly then that is a major exception – who can blame you?
 GOALS:
1.) Use the fabric already living in my stash.
2.) Finish UFOs without distraction by shifting to other, new, beautiful fabric.
3.) Stop the insanity of constantly buying the latest and greatest fabric. This one is actually not so hard – I’m very rarely attracted to purchasing fabrics lines as they are released.
4.) Save the money I would be spending on new fabric acquisitions. I’m still working on paying off credit cards. Hubby and I really want to be able to afford the down payment on a house in the near future.
5.) De-stash the fabrics that I realize I am never going to use. Thankfully(?), this pool of fabric got a lot smaller – making softies allows me to play more with those fabrics that no longer look as appealing as they did when I bought them.
So, for those of you who would like some encouragement in using up what you have, feel free to join us. I’m going to try something new, and keep track of how much fabric I use up. More to shame myself into continuing to abstain than anything else. I’m also going to allow myself to purchase non-quilting fabric for softies and apparel. Trying different materials for the softies  clothes will be fun, and provide more opportunities for me to learn.







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