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 😛

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.

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Fun Little Finish

7 06 2013

There are days when I just amaze myself with the ways I can find to procrastinate and avoid finishing something – and not for lack of desire for a finish.

My problem is that I suffer from crafty ADD. There’s always a newer, shinier project on the horizon. I can easily abandon something nearly completed to chase the vision of that new project…

I finally went back to one of those older, languishing projects – I first mentioned it here on October 12, 2012. So, yes, it’s been sitting, nearly finished for at least six months. So closed to finished, in fact, that it only took five hours of hand-quilting this week to complete.

I don’t even have a proper title for it – I’m calling it Modern Mini for now:

Modern Mini

Modern Mini Back

The quilt measures 27.5″ X 37″, and is made entirely from scraps and stash, with the exception of the Presencia thread purchased for the hand-quilting. I did a combination of machine and hand-quilting on this project. All the machine quilting was in the ditch. Obviously, I went with a scrappy binding – though I only used fabrics that were represented in the scrappy squares in the top. I love the backing fabric – it’s a favorite print from Joann’s. I love those large polka dots!

Hand-quilting was accomplished after the machine quilting was done, and after I’d already affixed the binding. By doing it this way, I was able to hand-quilt in the car to and from work, without wrestling with a hoop. Overall, quite pleased, and this would have been a project that could have been turned around in a couple of weekends, had I stuck with it.

Linking up to crazy mom quilts Finish It Up Friday.

Also linking up to i have to say…’s Show and Tell Tuesday.





Frankenstein – Done Stitching

24 05 2013

On Monday evening, I put the last hand-stitches into Frankenstein’s binding! I cannot tell you how psyched I am to finally have a finish in this year. So much of my time has been spent on starts and things in progress – and I know that this is the natural progression of things, in order to get to the finish – but sometimes one just needs to complete something.

Of note – I’m ridiculously pleased with my binding on this baby. It’s nicely full, uses a striped fabric effectively, and in three of the four corners, the mitering is kick-ass. The fourth one just wasn’t happening unless I backtracked and ripped out my stitches and redid about four hours of work. I decided that one slightly less than perfect corner was an acceptable trade-off for retaining that four hours for something else.

Frankenstein CompleteFrankenstein

55″ X 55″ – 1.5 yards of solid fabrics, 1 to 1.5 yards of scraps in top

Frankenstein Backing
Approximately 2 yards in backing, and 1/4 yard of binding

I went with minimalist quilting on this, choosing to use my walking foot to stitch along the seams. I wanted it to be softer and more snuggly than my usual quilt jobs. As I quilted this one up, I noticed that Bessie isn’t operating optimally with the table – I think I’m moving too fast, and defying the speed at which the walking foot moves. On the other hand, Bessie was NOT happy with trying FMQ – I think I need to reduce drag a bit more yet, and get a Supreme Slider. If Bessie still doesn’t handle FMQ well, I may have to retire her and switch to use my Janome for piecing and quilting.

Now that I’ve had a few years with Bessie, I’m seeing that she was definitely built for garment making, and I wish I’d made a different choice when picking a new machine. However, I don’t have a ton of extra money to drop on a new machine, so I’ll make her work if she can. If she can’t, I at least have an option to try. In the end, honestly, I think that my Janome will be the machine that I use from now on, once I’ve made the adjustment to that machine. I’m reluctant, because I hate the bobbin feed mechanism. It’s side loading, not drop in, and URGH.

But I digress…. My hope is that Frankenstein will be a gift for friends expecting their first little one – if the little one is a boy. If not then, Zebediah is enthralled by it, having already claimed it to sleep under Thursday evening. If the little one proves to be a girl, well then, I’ve an excuse to make another quilt.





More Scrappy Stars

15 05 2013

I did manage to make some progress on the scrappy stars at Stitch ‘N’ Bitch on Saturday. I got a decent start on sixteen quadrants, or four stars. In order to add some variety to the string pool, I decided that whenever I cut from my yardage for another purpose, I need to cut a few strings for these blocks. It was a good call – I had very little in the way of lighter strings that weren’t a variation of acid green.

Gee, what do I buy a lot of? Yeah, acid green. Oh, and bright orange. And, weirdly, lately – pink. I’m not understanding that one, though it might be the prevalence of strong, fuschia-leaning pinks in the market right now. I’m very much about the stronger, purer tones.

Last night, I sat down and completed the sixteen quadrants, after having taken kiddo to the park for two hours. So, despite him not being the only one tired, I took advantage of his solid slumber and communed with Bessie. I finished up the quadrants, and got a solid start on sewing them together. Finally, it hit about 2:00 AM, and I had to admit defeat and head to bed myself.

The alarm went off at 6:00 AM this morning, and I decided to finish assembling those stars this morning. I managed to finish just as I had to leave for work, so I have four more scrappy star blocks, bringing me to twelve!

Scrappy Star 11

Scrappy Star 10

Scrappy Star 09

Scrappy Star 12





And Then There Were Three…

8 05 2013

… Three more blocks to make for Frankenstein, that is.

An Evening of Scrappiness

1. Frankenstein Block 32, 2. Frankenstein Block 33, 3. Frankenstein Block 34, 4. Frankenstein Block 35, 5. Frankenstein Block 36, 6. Frankenstein Block 37

I forgot that these blocks go together so simply, if not quickly. It is the essence of mindless sewing. I simply need to sit in front of my machine armed with iron, cutting mat, rotary cutter, snips, and scraps. A concentrated block of a few hours and I am much closer to completion of this top than I expected to be.

This is not without its advantages. Once I have Frankenstein in being a completed top, I can use the scraps of batting I’ve hung onto, to make a sandwich. I think I already know which fabrics I will use as a backing, as well. Theoretically, I might have a nearly complete quilt by the end of the week. LOL – I won’t make the mistake of assuming I can quilt and bind this thing by the end of the day on Friday. That’s just crazy talk.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.

Because I want a finish this year, dammit.

Scrappy Star 07

Scrappy Star 08

I also got two more scrappy stars done for Swirling Sea of Stars this past weekend, clearly. I’m really enjoying these blocks, and wish they would go together just a touch faster. Since I have eight blocks now, I’m desperately tempted to start sewing them together.

Just because I can.

I’m resisting – I would like to complete two more sets of four before starting to piece these blocks together. I want to arrange for maximum scrappiness, as well as to get a real idea of how many of these blocks I will need to make. I had enough foundations printed to make 32 of these. I don’t honestly know if this is too many or too few, as of yet. I am hoping that it will be just right, though I will not be surprised if I need to go back and get more foundations printed.

As noted previously, I have difficulty working small – see the last three quilt tops I’ve completed ‘recently’: Charmed, I’m Sure, The Garden Party’s Quadrille, Technicolor Fields. Each one of these measures at least 100″ square. I’m more than a little terrified by the idea of quilting up any of these, but will persevere, and soon.

Regardless, I want A Swirling Sea of Stars to use a good chunk of my scraps, which means large is the way to go, unless I manage get moving on the other string top…





The Swirl of Life

26 04 2013

I’ve been stealing some time to sew this week. It’s my sanity saver, especially as the semester winds down and final exams draw near.

I don’t typically talk about The Job here – I manage a technology support desk at a local college. It’s incredibly fun, but tends to get a little more stressful as each semester draws to a close, for obvious reasons. Teaching staff and faculty are working to ensure they give all their lessons, students are working to complete all of their projects, and, of course, exams loom on the horizon.

This past year, I’ve been exceedingly privileged in having a truly top notch student staff. About one third of them are graduating with the end of the semester. This both saddens and elates me. Elates me, because I’ve been able to be an integral part of these students’ college experience, helping to provide them invaluable work experience and knowledge that I hope they will carry through their careers. Saddens me, because they have been such a joy to work with. They’re bright, driven, and wonderful people – I have no doubt that they will succeed in their chosen arenas. Saddened also because I am losing so much knowledge and experience, and needing to replace these bright young people with newer, younger staff.

Interviewing prospective applicants has taken over much of my work days – I am hoping to bring six to eight individuals into my staff, to train them over the summer. I would like them to have some experience in the call center before the fall semester begins, with its influx of tech issues that need to be resolved so that life on campus can move forward smoothly. I’ve made offers to five individuals, but most of them aren’t looking to take a ton of hours. I have a feeling that I’ll actually end up bringing on board ten to twelve individuals, so that I can have staff coverage in the event of absences. This means that I’ll conceivably be interviewing through the rest of the spring semester.

There have been other irritations and stressors, of course. I’m not going to dive too deeply into them, just because I don’t want to dwell too much on some of them. I’m working on getting over them, and ranting about them won’t help that.

Clearly, the sewing has been a welcome escape. My creativity is a creature that is rarely satisfied with meager meals of fifteen and twenty minutes of sewing here and there. I sew as regularly as possible, with the intent to get an hour a day in. I’ve been dragging a quilt back and forth to work, to work on hand-stitching the binding down on the thirty minute commute. I’ve also made some progress on Swirling Sea of Stars:

Spinning Star 04

Another star ready. This makes four. Practice is making this process faster, which is good. I’d really like to have this top done by the end of May. With four done, I decided to lay them out and see if they matched my vision:

Starting to Swirl 01

I was not so very impressed with the movement of the stars when I laid them out this way. It didn’t sparkle the way I wanted. So, I then laid them out according to my EQ7 illustration:

Starting to Swirl 02

Much better! Of course, I won’t be sure of this until I get a few more blocks in, but I feel like my initial plan was the way to go. Here’s hoping kiddo runs himself ragged at the park tonight 🙂





Making Stars

22 04 2013

I finally got a chance to start piecing my string quilt.

Okay, the other string quilt.

Yes, I now have two currently on the go. One will use fairly typical blocks – a simple 6″ square, with a strip of white down the middle to provide some rest. The other – Swirling Sea of Stars is officially underway! I got two blocks done – one was actually finished in the few minutes I had before I left for work this morning.

So far, my star points meet up reasonably well. I unfortunately had to print on 20# copy paper, due to the size of these quadrants, so I was kind of stressing whether or not that paper was too thick.

Scrappy Star 01

Scrappy Star 02

Once again, I find myself preferring the more narrow strips, but I refuse to go back and split those wider strings. The variety is needed, and they aid greatly in completing these string blocks.

I am eager to see how the darker solids look in this pattern, so I am going to do a set tonight with the purple and orange in the stars tonight. If I can keep to a set a day, I should be able to get this top done.





April’s First Sewing Session

4 04 2013

Yesterday, I had an evening without kiddo – he’s at Grandma’s through tomorrow because Daddy’s going on another business trip and someone needs to be able to shuttle kiddo to and from school while I’m at work. So, obviously, I sewed.

Because that’s what I do.

Last night was a swap block night. I needed to make two more granny blocks for April, and at least two blocks for the Scrappy? Sew Bee It! swap. I ended up making the two granny blocks, and four blocks for the other swap.

Granny Bee Block 12

Granny Bee Block 11

Liz requested blocks in which the center-most square and the outer blocks were comprised of solids or read-as-solids fabrics. They should coordinate with the print used for the middle ring.

I worked slightly backwards, and pulled my solids first, using some of what I have leftover from Technicolor Fields. Then I found multi-color prints that coordinated with those solids.

Nicky Block 01

Nicky Block 02

Nicky Block 03

Nicky Block 04

Nicky requested blocks based on instructions that she posted on her blog. Since I cut from yardage, I didn’t follow her instructions. She also requested brights fabrics, a total no-brainer for me. I decided to go half and half with these, as to how the values laid out.

I still have one more block to make for the month of April. I’m hoping to get that churned out tonight, and then get more progress made on Frankenstein.





Charmed, I’m Sure

25 03 2013

Almost a year ago, I stumbled across the pins and bobbins Made in Cherry Quilt-Along, and decided that the project was a great way to use the charms I was receiving from a swap. It was also a great way to stay motivated in managing my scraps.

Made in Cherry

Being who I am, I of course had to draw the design up in EQ7.

The original pattern by Sarah Fielke didn’t include any borders, but I liked the look with borders.

If you look closely at the illustration to the left, you can actually tell that I did my quilt-y math wrong. The black, inner border isn’t wide enough. It needs to be twice as wide.

But no matter. I realized my mistake well before I actually added the border. I actually finished the center of the top months ago, in June 0f 2012. I also recognized some issues that had taken place in the cutting, causing some major waving in the big triangles.

I then folded it away, to await my participation in a second charm swap, to get enough for the border. Unfortunately, real life conspired against me, and I wasn’t able to join in.

So, the top sat, unfinished. For quite a while.

Until I decided that I had gotten through enough of my scraps to do the border. Ha! I ended up needing to cut 51 charms my stash, which I accomplished yesterday. This was after spending a day picking apart the major seams of the top, to fix the wavering issues.

Very late last night (or very early this morning, depending on your definition), at around 1:30 AM, I finished adding the second border. It was entirely too big to photograph in my apartment, so I took it to work, thinking I could have a couple of students hold it over a railing. That didn’t happen, since I spent work working on a report and catching up on tasks. Plus, I have a sinus cold going on, and staying away from Kleenex for too long was not an option.

So, once I got home, I took advantage of my balcony once again, and caught a photo.

I present to you, Charmed, I’m Sure:

Charmed, I'm Sure

Overall, I’m pretty happy. I was very worried, as I pieced the final border, that I would have too much pink, yellow and green in it. I have very little blue in my stash, and by the time I got toward the end, my charms were definitely leaning toward the warmer side of things.

Cool beans for me – the inner border used up the remainder of a fabric in my stash. The backing and the binding will also come from my stash. Happiness.