First Finish of 2016!

14 01 2016

This past Saturday, I was able to finally quilt up the top I’ve been calling ‘Charmed, I’m Sure’. This particular quilt top has been waiting for its turn to be completed since March 23, 2013.

*facepalm* Yup, I’ve some ancient quilt tops in my pile.

I’ve spent the week since alternating working on stitching the binding on, or sleeping underneath the thing. This morning, I put the last stitches  into the binding – which used up half a yard of one of the oldest prints in my stash!

I then took my husband and the new quilt out for a photo shoot.

hate taking pictures of my work in the winter – today’s shoot involved some mishaps due to the light, and a slide down a hill on his stomach for my husband. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the ready with my camera, so I didn’t get any footage for posterity.

First Finish of 2016 - Charmed I'm Sure

This quilt is HUGE at 99.5″ X 99.5″ which is why it waited so long. I couldn’t imagine trying to shove that beast through my domestic machine.

Charmed I'm Sure Backing

The backing was another of my make-do affairs. I very rarely buy enough of a single fabric for backing, unless I get it at an amazing price. For this particular quilt, I decided to use up the rest of the hospital scrub green solid that I used in the quilt top, two ‘ugly’ fabrics that I wasn’t going to use anywhere else, and a feather print that I’d purchased for another project. I ended up needing just a few more inches for this backing to work, so I inserted a strip of charm squares to make up the difference.

It’s so good to have this one off my WIP list, even though it didn’t help me much with my stash usage… I’d had the backing prepped for ages, so it very definitely pre-dates my stash resolution for 2016.

But, it’s a finish! And as such, counts for the:

Rhonda's [Quilt] Ramblings
See my original list of goals here.
Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? since it’s the end of the week.

365 Challenge Quilt Sampler

9 01 2016

Yes, there is a 365 Challenge Quilt Sampler out there, and yes, I’m doing it! Of course I am. It’s a quilt-along – we’ve already established that I’m a sucker for a quilt-along.

Blocks are being posted daily – one block for every day of the calendar year. Blocks are mostly 3″ and 6″ finished, but there will be a few other sizes mixed in. Also, come April, there will be instructions to complete borders, so none of the participants will have to wrangle 365 separate blocks at the end of the year.

It’s a good reason for me to take a few minutes and sit at my sewing machine every day. So far, that few minutes has been just enough to spark me to sewing on other projects.

I’ve already determined that I’m going to work from my scraps and stash for this top. I’ve started with my greys and blacks, but I’m throwing pops of color in as I feel like it. So far, I like the look.

Rather than inundate the blog with a daily post about each 365 Challenge Quilt block, I’m going to do a weekly round up, of that week’s blocks. As of writing this, nine blocks are available, and I’ve nine completed.

365 CQS Week One1. Three Stripes, 2. Easy H, 3. Red Cross, 4. Four Patch,
5. Nine Patch,6. Four Strips, 7. Two By Two

Seven days, seven blocks. They’ve been simple blocks so far. My understanding is that difficulty will increase as we progress through the year.

It’s been fun, revisiting my scraps for these blocks, and more fun to use scraps leftover from the scraps to piece later blocks. Doing this, of course, means that I’ll probably play with the final layout, to spread out the random pops of color, when it comes time to start assembling, but I’m okay with that.

I’m just going to enjoy the journey.

OMG: January 2016 Goal

8 01 2016

Keen observers of my blog will note that I’ve been dinking around with my side bar, and that a couple of new buttons have popped up there. Among those new buttons is:

Since A Lovely Year of Finishes is now retired, I decided to follow along with Red Letter Quilts One Monthly Goal. While I’ll still be doing the 2016 Finish Along, I like the idea of having a monthly goal. I can set smaller milestones for myself.

For instance, this month my goal is to take my Fibs and Fables to a complete quilt top:

A Start

I’ve got all of the large diamonds cut, strips for the small four-patch diamonds prepped, and all of my fabric has arrived. This means that I will have more starching and pressing to do, but the starching is totally necessary for this particular quilt top.

I may be able to make quite a bit of progress on this quilt top tomorrow – it’s my monthly group sewing day. It’s just a matter of what I work on… I’m hoping I might be able to quilt a top up.

We’ll see what happens. Regardless, progress photos soon.

A Stash Manifesto

7 01 2016

Once again looking to the online quilting community for inspiration in quilting, I ran across A Quarter Inch from the Edge’s The Year of the Stash.

While I don’t add to my stash as frequently as some, I do know that I’ve managed to acquire enough to make several quilts.

I also know that though I don’t need more fabric, I enjoy the burst of ‘happy’ I get from acquiring more. So much so, that it’s very easy to acquire fabric faster than I use it.

This year, rather than practice a ‘diet’, in which I refuse to buy fabric, I’m going to attempt to be conscious about keeping track of how much of my stash I use. If I do bring fabric into the house (because that will happen), then it’ll be tracked too.

I’ve added a simple tracker to my sidebar (yay, HTML!), so that it’s transparent to myself and to everyone following along. For total honesty, I won’t count yardage that has already been dedicated to a project toward my ‘used’ totals. If it’s already promised to a project, and binned with that project, then it’s not stash proper.

Estimating yardage used from my scraps will be tough… I think I’ll only count actual yardage. If I have to iron and starch it to use it, then it can be counted toward my usage each month. (I iron and pre-cut all of my scraps for use.)

Will this get me to use my stash more often? I don’t honestly know. I’ve already got several projects that need my attention. I got four WIPs through to completed quilt last year. I’d really like to double that this year.

Ideally, I’d like to do that without immediately replacing a completed project with a new one, but I know myself. I am fueled by feeding my creative beast. I’m actually more stifled and less willing to sew if I’m not playing with fabric. And, yes, that does mean I start an awful lot of projects, but that’s what the 2016 Finish Along is for 😉

And, because I hate the idea of a blog post without a photograph, and because I already have fabric to add to my tally:

January Stash Addition Part 01

From left to right:

1.) Utopia Specks of Rambutan

2.) Ella’s Basics Black and White News

3.) Ella’s Basics Silver and White News

3.) Ella’s Basics White and Black News

3.) Ella’s Basics White and Grey News

January Stash Addition 02

From left to right:

1.) Utopia Amber Lucid Hills

2.) Fibs and Fables Algae Cottage

3.) Fibs and Fables Midnight Escape

4.) Fibs and Fables Snowy Cottage

5.) Chillingsworth Cream Dapper Yardage

That’s 9.5 yards of fabric to start the year off, and to kick off my log.

2016 Finish Along – Q1 Goals

7 01 2016

It’s that time of year again – for me to set some goals, and to plan a bit ahead, with some help from the online quilting community.

Rhonda's [Quilt] Ramblings

I participated in the 2015 Finish Along with some success – I completed four quilts over the first half of the year, before losing steam and then becoming buried by the holidays.

I’m participating again, because it was a great experience for me, and it held me to some goals. I’m competitive (even against myself) so it’ll be fun to see how this year stacks up against last year.

I’d already done some preparation for the 2016 Finish Along, without realizing it. I took a good, long look at my projects, and eliminated a few that were never going to be finished, because I’d fallen out of love with them. Now, my WIP list for 2016 is updated, even with brand new projects that I started in the last couple of weeks.

Without further ado, my goals for this first quarter of the year:

Charmed, I'm Sure

To finally quilt and bind ‘Charmed, I’m Sure’. This beast has been sitting in my pile for too long. I’d like to get it quilted up and into rotation sooner rather than later.

Quick Quilt Top

To quilt and bind this scrappy baby quilt. I pieced it on a whim, and even started quilting it. I just need to finish the quilting, and then I can bind it.

Swirling Sea of Stars Quilt Top

To quilt and bind ‘A Swirling Sea of Stars’. I’m so excited to have completed this quilt top, finally! I just need to decide on backing it, and figure out how to quilt this monster. There are A LOT of seams to conquer here.

A Start

To complete my Fibs and Fables quilt. It’s not even a complete top at this point, and has a lot more piecing to go. And I’m still waiting on fabric to arrive, so that I can complete cutting.

I’ll leave it at just the four projects for this first quarter… Somewhere in all of those, I’ll need to get a leg up on piecing the rest of my projects.

Fibs & Fables Fabric

5 01 2016

Not all that long ago, I won a gift certificate to I used it towards a half yard bundle of Fibs and Fable by Anna Maria Horner.

Fibs & Fables Bundle

Being that I’m an impatient type of person, I wasn’t content to let it sit in my stash for very long, so on the last day of 2015, I started starching, pressing, and cutting.

A couple of evenings ago, I was able to start piecing, and I am so very, very glad that I have converted to starching my fabrics:

A Start

When choosing which fabrics to cut at what size, I decided I wanted to preserve the integrity of the large scale prints in the collection. As I piece, I’m attempting to keep them spaced across the quilt, and to disperse the color groups.

So far, so good, even if piecing is slowed by my running between the machine and the design wall.

2015 – The Year in Review

28 12 2015

This has been a year… One that I wish I could go back and do-over, but at least 2016 is nearly here?

While it was a creatively satisfying year in many ways, it was an incredibly frustrating year on the professional front. I was released from the university, my supervisors electing not to renew my contract. Thinking on it still makes my heart hurt – I wrap up a lot of my self-worth in my job, and I honestly felt like I was making a difference, and that I was valued. To learn that I wasn’t, that I didn’t ‘fit within the budget’ – that kind of broke me for a while. I’m not sure that I’ve completely recovered, either.

As I said, creatively, it was a satisfying year. I finished five quilts and participated in a round robin. I think I would love to participate in another round robin, but I would be more finite in what I would want to others put into my quilt – as in, I would specify certain things, whereas I had allowed a lot of creative freedom in this round robin.

That said, I’ll probably continue to abstain from swaps in general. I would like to finish more projects, and swaps only add to my UFO/WIP pile.

Traveling Bee-utiful Swap

1. Lone Star – Complete, 2. Traveling Bee-utiful – February Round, 3. cseawright Traveling Bee-utiful Top-in-Progress, 4. Traveling Bee-utiful April for Forestbuckets, 5. Traveling Bee-utiful April for Sunseak, 6. Farm Quilt II, 7. Something Like Progress, 8. Traveling Bee-utiful – July, 9. Traveling Bee-utiful Swap – September Addition, 10. October Addition Complete, 11. Traveling Bee-utiful November, 12. My Traveling Bee-utiful Quilt Top

The Traveling Bee-utiful Quilt Swap was a fun, but often frustrating, experience. It did push me creatively, which was great. I came away with a better understanding of my creative process. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the quilt top that came home to me. I know for sure that I’m not ready to quilt it.

2015 was also highlighted by several quilt finishes, of which I am quite proud. I’m usually a starter, and still have eleven WIPs to clear out of my queue. I did, however, commit myself to finishing projects by participating in the 2015 Finish Along, and A Lovely Year of Finishes. I fell off of completing projects as the fourth quarter of the year approached – I just didn’t have a lot of time, thanks to the holidays.

Night Sky Completed Quilt - Front

Night Sky was my second attempt at a Camille Roskelley pattern. I did this one as written, and using up my grey, yellow, and white/black fabric stashes. I actually picked this project because I’m a sucker for a quilt-along, but the quilt-along never actually reached completion on the hosting blog.

3xS Completed Quilt Front

3xS (Stars, Squares and Scraps) was supposed to be a leader/ender project to use up my scrap stash, and some neutral solids I had hanging about. It ended up being stupidly fast to piece, because I had everything pre-cut. And then, because I was itching for a finish, I hurried to quilt it.

Embers - Front

I then completed Embers, which was actually the first quilt top I’d done from a Camille Roskelley pattern. I actually had drafted it without the pattern, and re-sized the block to 16″, but purchased the pattern after I’d done all that because I felt guilty. The quilt top had been sitting in my to-be quilted pile for some time, and I just felt like it was time to be done with it.

High Tea Quilt Front

Back in October 2014, I tested a pattern and then the top sat around for a while. I do that a lot… I often get discouraged at the idea of quilting something, because I just don’t have the desire to force a quilt through my domestic machine.

Also, I wasn’t that in love with the top, though I worked from stashed fabrics. Funnily enough, once I’d quilted it and then washed it, I fell in love. Now, I sleep with it most nights.

Spice Garden - Desert Bloom Quilting Mystery Quilt

As I said, I’m a sucker for quilt alongs, so when I saw the 2015 Desert Bloom Quilting Mystery Quilt Along advertised on reddit, I jumped on board. I mainlined the quilt top in two weeks, using only stashed fabrics, and then hurried to quilt it. This quilt went to live with friends that I thought needed a permanent hug.

So, that was 2015 in a nutshell. I’d call it a good quilting year, but I’d really like to do more in 2016. That WIP queue is calling my name. If I can convince myself to be adventurous with quilting, I might actually knock four of my WIPs out fairly quickly.

Swirling Sea of Stars – Completed Quilt Top

24 12 2015

It’s been a long time in coming, but I finally put together enough blocks to call Swirling Sea of Stars a completed quilt top.

With working the holidays in retail again, I realized I needed to sew for my own sanity. I needed something simple-ish, and near completion, so that I could have that pleasant burst of accomplishment.

Swirling Sea of Stars was definitely near completion. I’d stalled out at needing four more blocks, and had even started piecing those four blocks. 16 quarter stars had been languishing under my sewing table for months.

Over a couple of days, I buckled down and got to sewing:

Scrappy Piecing
The sixteen quarters stars on the left were all I needed. The three stars on the right were just waiting for their pale-centered brethren to be made complete.

And then, finally, finally! I had a completed quilt top. I made only as many blocks as I had solid fabric for. My EQ7 design called for 144 blocks, but I may have drawn the design with smaller blocks than what I actually made:

Swirling Sea of Stars

I love how the quilt top actually turned out, with the variations in the widths of the scraps. And I especially love the way the stars actually stand out.

Swirling Sea of Stars Quilt Top

For me, there will always be something wonderful and magical about using my scraps to make something like this. So much of what I used could have just been disposed of. Instead, I’ve made something that I can appreciate for years to come.

It’s Home! My Traveling Bee-utiful Quilt Top

23 12 2015

My quilt top for the Traveling Bee-utiful Swap made its way home a few weeks ago. It’s so large that I had to wait until I could take it to work and photograph it there, on our empty floor space. I could carpet my living room with this quilt top.

My Traveling Bee-utiful Quilt Top

I’m debating ways to quilt it, but I might make some alterations first. We’ll see.

For the moment, this top is going into my UFO pile, to await the day that I’m ready to tackle it again.