Quilted Goodness

18 05 2014

I woke up this morning, and I was raring to go. The alarm went off at 7:00 AM. By 7:30, I was sitting at the sewing machine, pedal to the floor.

It took five hours of straight line stitching, but by 2:00 PM, I had a completely quilted top:

Patchwork Star - Quilted

I used my walking foot, marching the edge of the foot along the seams. The thread is a lovely 100% cotton, variegated thread that runs from dark red to pastel pink. I thought it was a good addition to this quilt. I really like the contrast of the straight line quilting against the soft edges of the large scale print.

Patchwork Star - Quilting Back

I really love the way the quilting looks on the backside of the quilt. I do find myself wishing I’d had more of the cream and pink print to use for the backing, as the quilting is so striking against it. Ah, well, I used up three pieces of yardage that I had absolutely no plan for. I’ll take that as a win.

All that’s left to do is to make the binding and add it. I grabbed a stack of red prints – for some reason I’m certain it has to be a red binding – and draped them against the top:

Testing Binding Fabrics

I think the middle print of the five is my winner for the binding. If I’m lucky, making the binding will use up all I have of that print. Then, I’ll have used up four prints, and a bunch of scraps. So far, I’ve used four and a half yards, not including the scraps.

But, for now, I’m off to go see Godzilla. When I get back tonight, I’ll have make up the binding, and then I can finish this quilt up while going to and from work the next couple of days.

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Patchwork Star Top

17 05 2014

I didn’t get to show many in progress shots of this top… there wasn’t much to it, though there was a sneak peek in last post. Inspired by Charmed, I’m Sure, which was worked up from the Sarah Fielke Made in Cherry pattern:

Charmed, I'm Sure

I decided to do a smaller patchwork star top. Instead of charm squares, I used 3″ squares from my pre-cut scraps. Squares in yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, and purples were added to the pile. After some  debate on what to use, I pulled a large scale Tracy Porter print:

Porter Print

I’ve had a soft spot for this fabric (and its coordinating prints) since I picked them up at Joann’s on a clearance sale. They’ve a lovely hand to them, almost a flannel finish. Beautiful stuff, and ideal for a baby quilt.

Patchwork Star Baby Quilt

It took a few evenings’ worth of piecing and ironing to get this together. Mostly in ironing, really. This pattern benefits wonderfully from nesting your seams. Honestly, it’s so simple, it really doesn’t need a pattern, just some basic math.

The photo doesn’t really do this quilt top justice… It was bright out when I took this photo, so it’s hard to tell just how beautifully the mix of scrap squares glows against the background fabric.

I’m picking up batting today for this – I only have large batts on hand, and I don’t want to cut into a package already earmarked for a larger project. My plan is to have this quilted this weekend, and then I’ll start quilting on something else. I have too many tops sitting around here.





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.





And Then There was One…

10 05 2013

ONE quilt top!

I finished the last three blocks for Frankenstein on Wednesday evening. My intention was to actually get the top put together Thursday morning… I didn’t bother getting out of bed early enough, because it was so comfy!

The Last Three

1. Frankenstein Block 38, 2. Frankenstein Block 39, 3. Frankenstein Block 40

Thursday evening, I hit the sewing machine running! After a couple hours, I had a completed top, and had even done up the backing!

Frankenstein - The Patchwork Monster

Pardon the slightly terrible, late night photo. I plan on taking a better picture once I have Frankenstein quilted up.

I’m super happy with this project at the moment. Everything is from scraps or stash, right down to the batting. I’m using batting leftover from other projects rather than buy new batting for this. There are 1.5″ yards of solids in the top. About 2.5 yards of fabric went into the backing, which even uses some fabrics I wasn’t sure how I’d use (that’s what I get for impulse buying rocket fabric).

The only piece still waiting is a decision on what to use for the binding – I’m thinking that it will be a scrappy binding, to fit with the origins of this project.