Monday, September 30, 2013

NewFOs and a UFO

Barbara over at Cat Patches holds a NewFO Challenge to encourage us all to start new projects each month and I've had a few in September. I made these pincushions earlier in the month for the Pin It Blog Hop. The fabric basket was my June NewFO Project and the Schnibbles "Gentle Art" underneath was my NewFO for May which were both finished in September.
I'm working on my other NewFO for September which is a make-up brush holder for my daughter using THIS tutorial. The fabrics on the left are the inside and the floral on the right will be the cover. It's a fun project to make and my daughter has been more than patient waiting for it!
My last UFO sewing for the month was to bring this Christmas Rail Fence UFO to flimsy stage. I measured, re-measured and checked my math several times to ensure it will be the right size for it's new job...
as backing for my Christmas Fantasy quilt!
Cindy at Tops To Treasures is going to be doing the quilting for me on this one. I'm super excited to combine 2 UFOs into one quilt! The rail fence blocks were from a swap I hosted several years ago on the HGTV Quilting Forum and I'm happy to find a great way to use them.

I'm linking up my NewFOs to Cat Patches Linky Party for September.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Scrappy Sewing and More

Let's start with the "and More" part of the post... my September block for Kristy@Quiet Play's "And Sew On" paper pieced BoM.
It was a challenging block for me but I am so happy with how it turned out. Slow but steady wins the race for successful complex paper piecing... one section and then one row at a time. So much more relaxing! I'm going to embroider or add embellishments to my birdie window in the middle section later but for now I need to start the next block so I can catch up.

I've got my blocks for Blue & Yellow Strings trimmed and up on my design wall. This will be a lap quilt for our master bedroom so I need to make quite a few more blocks as these are only 7.5" unfinished. I'm really liking the blocks with the super skinny strings and just look at how that polka dot jumps out! I need to find some more "zingers" like that in my stash.
Last Sunday I posted this pic of my green & purple HST blocks and asked for feedback on which layout you preferred. It was really interesting to read the comments (thank you!) and you helped me to confirm my choice.
I expected to be all over the layout on the right because normally diagonal layouts are my favorite and I was was really intrigued by the "argyle" effect. But in person my eyes kept seeing blocks that really didn't work in this layout - their value was too muddled. What a great lesson! I'm going to refer back to this picture when I try it again paying careful attention to fabric placement.
I went ahead and sewed them them together early in the week. I haven't named this one yet... but it will have either Twinkle or Sparkle in the name because that the effect I get from this top. My eye just travels everywhere and I love it! I haven't found anything I like for a border in my stash and I might just quilt it up as it is.
I'm linking up to Scrap Basket Sunday@Kim's Big Quilting Adventure, Design Wall Monday@Patchwork TimesSeptember's Link Up@Quiet Play and Paper Piecing Party@Quiet Play.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oops... I Did it Again

It has been a week of highs and lows in my quilting room and just to keep it real this was yesterday's "You have GOT to be KIDDING me!!!" moment. Those might not have been my exact words!
I have a somewhat irrational fear of marking quilts from reading too many stories about not being able to remove the marks later. On my Thimbleberries Jacob's Ladder quilt I am going follow the diagonal lines of the ladders and echo that in the middle sections so I need to do some marking. 

With this in mind I started using this red Frixion pen a week ago to mark binding joins, the block intersections on yesterday's Four Patch & Friends quilt and other unseen areas. Every time my iron magically erased it while pressing I gained a little confidence. On this top I've tested it on the background in a seam allowance several times. So I'm ready to mark (and I'm not worried about it coming back in sub zero temps if you've read about that). If my family room ever experiences sub zero temps I've got a much bigger problem!
I come to study this block wondering what happened to that lovely chain of background squares to quilt along to. Arrgh!

Unlike the day before, I just couldn't pull out Mr. Ripper and fix it on the spot. I took the day off so to speak. But today I am going to remove the borders in that corner and fix it GOOD! I am not going to let this quilt go back to the stalled pile again.

On a much happier note - I have a winner from my Year of Blogging giveaway.
Who is:
Ironically Melissa emailed back that her sewing machine table lamp had broken this week! So there was some good kharma yesterday after all. Congratulations to Melissa and thanks to everyone who left me such wonderful comments on Monday!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Lovely Finish!

I am SO excited! Four Patch & Friends is FINALLY A FLIMSY!!
Sorry to be shouting... I'll calm down now.  LOL

Unlike some of my UFOs who have kind of a fuzzy history, I have very distinct memories of Four Patch & Friends. I saw the top made up in a quilt shop on my way home from Minneapolis/St. Paul during the winter of 2002 and fell in love with it. The shop had a starter kit containing 40 floral 2.5" strips so I took a deep breath and bought it along with the book "Open a Can of Worms" by Debbie Caffrey.

I say took a deep breath because I had just taken my Beginning Quilting class in January 2002... and this didn't look anything like a beginning quilt! I remember rolling my sewing machine table out into our family room and making blocks during March Madness that year. I also remember bringing a box full of them to our family Easter gathering and proudly showing them off.

Sometime after that I imagine another shiny new project appeared and, well, you know how that goes.  A few more blocks were made here and there until I picked it up again last winter.  Earlier posts about this top are here, here, here, here and here if you want to read more about the assembly process and my challenges!

Yesterday was the day... I was determined to FINALLY make this beauty into a flimsy! It was a bright sunny day which might explain how this block caught my eye as I was finishing this seam.
The background fabric is flipped over backwards - which also happened in the last post referenced above. At least this one was on a corner edge and not in the middle of the partially assembled top like the last one! Out came Mr. Ripper and then I had to recheck all the blocks to see if I had missed any others. It just boggles my mind after all the times I've handled these blocks that I missed that (TWICE!!).                                                     
I literally pressed the last seam and ran upstairs to grab my camera because by now it was late afternoon and rain is forecasted for the next few days. So the top isn't perfectly pressed and there are lots of thread bits but guess what... it is DONE!
And, after 11+ years I still love it. So much. Maybe even more because it has been rather challenging from start to finish! I am so happy with the green inner border fabric which I had a very hard time finding. I took extra time to mark and pin the block intersections across the border because I was worried about having a wonky looking join. Not to mention to try and keep the top square (I've never done a layout like this).
This top will be mailed out for professional quilting... now I can just relax and enjoy the pictures. I've met my September ALYoF goal too which is always nice.
I'm also linking up to TGIFF@Cherry Valley Designs BlogCan I Get a Whoop Whoop@Confessions of a Fabric AddictLink A Finish Friday@Richard and Tanya Quilts, Needle & Thread Thursday@My Quilt Infatuation and Finish it Friday@Crazy Mom Quilts.

And... adding one more because this is my Favorite Quilt (even just as a flimsy!) so I'm linking it up at Molly Flanders Makerie with many more Favorite Quilts. You don't want to miss all the beautiful eye candy so go take a peek and link up yours while you are there!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Sweet Little Finish

This little cutie has a story behind it. I had ordered the fabrics to make a baby quilt for my cousin who was expecting her 1st baby and had just finished making the blocks a few days before I took my tumble off the step stool and broke my leg 4 years ago today. So as far as my UFO Collection goes this is a newbie at only 4 years old!

Of course that baby is now a sweet little boy... but one of my other cousins had a baby boy in July so I'm now calling this one "Puppies for Rylan". This quilt is from the book "Even More Quilts for Baby" by Ursula Reikes which is a wonderful source for cute baby quilts.
I was having some problems with my bobbin tension when I quilted it. After trying my usual adjustments it persisted so I found the tool to unscrew Mr. Juki's throat plate and could not believe the gobs of lint that had accumulated since my last cleaning! Guess I'd better step up my schedule when I'm doing lots of quilting.

Then Mr. Ripper and I had a few nights together while watching some TV. Round 2 of quilting went much better and I decided to only do vertical lines this time to keep the quilt nice and soft.
The fabrics are from a Moda line called "Oh My Dog" by Lori Gardner and they are just adorable! Look at these cuties on the backing - "Yappy but Happy" makes me smile.
As soon as I put a label on it and give a wash it will be in the mail... a finish at last for the newest member of our extended family!

I'm linking up to Let's Make Baby Quilts@Michelle's Romantic Tangle.
September Finishes

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Finish for WIP Wednesday

My quiltathon is still going strong... here is my ABC Charm Quilt which is one of my Q3 and September Goals. This is also UFO Finish #40 for 2013. The charms in this quilt are from an online 2008 swap on the HGTV Quilting Forum. Each of us was assigned a letter and cut our fabric into 26 6.5" charms. It was a fun package to open when the swap was complete!
My letter was "A" and I found a print with aliens on it. You can see it below followed by Bugs and Candy Corn in the top row. I shopped for the cute teal alphabet print to use for the 4 corner squares/cornerstones and added the striped sashing. I used teal thread from Connecting Threads for the quilting.

I always find it interesting to see which fabrics jump out and catch my attention once the quilt is finished. As I'm doing the quilting on these scrappy UFOs I really enjoy studying the fabrics on each pass. And, it is rather amazing to me how good a quilt made from fabrics contributed by 26 people sight unseen can look!
Can you identify the letters in both pictures? The Guitars on red are one of my favorites. I'm not much of a fan of Spiders but the ones below are pretty cute. "U" is kind of a tough letter but the Utensils are perfect!
I had enough of the alphabet print to use as backing and since I'd already used a stripe I chose the black & white polka dot for binding. I had to show you the Queen of Quilts and the Wolves too!
I'm going to be sending this quilt to a little boy in our extended family who just turned 3. I hope he has fun using it to learn his letters and of course cuddle up in too!

What's Hot:
  • Puppy Baby Quilt - My tension was off while I was quilting it so Mr. Ripper had to get busy... then I unscrewed Mr. Juki's throat plate and cleaned out gobs of lint. Oops! Cue round 2 of quilting.
  • Thimbleberries Jacob's Ladder - It is sandwiched and next in line.
  • Four Patch & Friends - Just a few more seams for a flimsy... then it's going in the mail after photos are taken to my LAQ.
  • "And Sew On" QAL - September's block is coming along and I'm loving it!
  • Blue & Yellow Strings - They are going up on the design wall - might be a flimsy yet this month.
What's Next:
  • October and Q4!!
I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday@Freshly Pieced.
September Finishes

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Stalled Project Finished

Earlier in the month I blogged about 4 Stalled Projects that are kind of dragging me down. Recently I read this quote on another quilter's blog (I wish I could recall exactly where) and it resonated with me.

“Nothing [is] so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” 
–William James

I could not agree more! All UFOs are Stalled Projects when you think about it... but these are The Stalled of The Stalled or Stalled x2. The Worst of The Worst! I have decided that I have GOT to finish these Stalled Projects pronto. I'm just plain tired of them hanging on... and on... and on.

Easter Stacked Coins is a UFO that I wasn't feeling the love for anymore. I decided to scale it down from a larger quilt into a Project Linus size (about 48" by 60") by trimming the coins which were already pieced into a smaller top.

I had fun with the quilting! After doing the grid quilting along the edges of the stacked coins I debated doing random vertical lines, serpentine stitched lines or something else... which turned into the diamond quilting.  I shut down my Inner Perfectionist by doing these freehand instead of marking the lines and I really like the result. The white Aurifil sinks into the top and almost looks like invisible thread.
I had an odd number of coins so I alternated each row just to make it interesting. Then I did some rows of 1.5" spaced lines to finish the borders.
I pieced together the leftover coins and a few scraps to make the pieced backing. I can't remember ever using the background fabric to bind the quilt but it just seemed to work here.
One Stalled Project down... 3 to go! Easter Stacked Coins has been hanging around on my Q1, Q2 and Q3 Goals so I am really happy to mark it DONE! at last.

I'm linking up to Freemotion by the River.
September Finishes

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Year of Blogging!

I have to confess that I've spent way too much time thinking about this post and still don't know how to succinctly express my feelings about the last year. How's that for making you want to read on? LOL

One thing I DO know is that I had no idea a year ago what the next 12 months would bring. I hadn't sewn a stitch for 3 years. I knew there were more than a few UFOs lurking about, but didn't expect quite so many. And I certainly had no clue how to blog.
Re-reading this post makes me smile. Choose the creative side whenever possible is what I've learned!

My Year of Blogging Top 10 List

10. Doing 3 Blog Hops (because each one pushed me to try new things and sew on a deadline).

9. 100 Day Hustle - This finishing challenge hosted by Kelsey Sews last fall helped me find a way to focus on a subset of my UFOs without being overwhelmed by them ALL. It has served me well ever since. And what a relief to find that so many other quilters have issues with finishing things!

8. Admitting how many UFOs I actually had (plus the extra 13 I found later!) in Let's Talk UFOs on Halloween.
7. My UFO Reward System. Still very motivating for me.

6. My 1st Quilting Room. Little did I know what was coming just a few months later!

5. Walking foot quilting... I always thought I had to learn FMQ to be a "real" quilter while I was creating all those UFOs. I'm so grateful to Norma at Petit Design Co. for her AMAZING 31 Days of Walking Foot Quilting Series last fall.

4. All things Juki! My 2010Q and F600 make quilting so fun.

3. My New Quilting Room which is a dream come true. Almost a Quilting Studio...

2. Learning to FINISH! Believe me when I say this is like rewiring my DNA. The structure that blogging brings has really helped me stay on task.

1. Making connections with quilters from all over the world. Hands down the BEST thing about blogging... I love my virtual quilt guild!

I'd like to offer a small token of my gratitude for all of the support I've received over the last year. I love reading and responding to your comments, getting feedback when needed and the "You CAN Do It" cheering section that has motivated me SO MUCH.
This little Jansjo LED light from IKEA is the best sewing light ever! I absolutely LOVE mine... you can bend it every which way to put that bright light just where you need it most. I've been waiting for this new line by Kate Spain all summer and now I'm going to have to buy another one for myself. It's a little packet of happiness!

Edited to add: Giveaway is now closed! Please leave a comment and I'll use Mr. Random to choose a winner on Friday, September 27th. I'll mail anywhere in the world - don't forget to include an e-mail if you are a no-reply blogger. If you need a topic tell me about about your biggest quilting challenge or what makes YOU happy to be a quilter and/or a blogger.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Scrappy Sewing and a Finish

9 Patch Swap is finished! Measuring in at 60.5" x 72.5" makes this by far the biggest top I have quilted myself... and while it wasn't THAT horrible to do I'm very happy to mark it DONE! as one of my goals for Q3.

I used royal blue Connecting Threads Essential thread to match the backing and I'm glad I decided to use it as top thread too. I like the look of the grid quilting to separate some of the lighter fabrics.

These 12" finished blocks were from a swap on the HGTV Quilting Forum several years ago. We were to use dark blue centers, dark/medium values on the outer corners and lights in between. It's always fun to see the mix of fabrics in swapped blocks. I had sewn the top together immediately after getting the blocks back... and then it waited.
I love this backing fabric and remember buying it on a trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul with my Mom. It's a brushed cotton and is very cozy. I machine sewed the binding so it will stand up to many washings.
After a wash to crinkle it up nicely I'm going to put in my car to use at outdoor sporting events. Too bad I'm about 5 years too late to bundle up in it to watch my daughter run track in those chilly April outdoor meets!
Last Sunday I posted the 1st of these 2 pictures on the blog of the UFO I've been using as my leader/ender project. I did go ahead this week and flip every other block on my design wall to put the dark corners and light corners together.
Making blocks with HSTs is so much fun... I just love playing around with layouts! Which one do you prefer? While I like them both I have a definite favorite but I'm curious to get some other opinions. I'll post again about this quilt next Sunday and share your feedback.

I'm linking up to Scrap Basket Sunday@Kim's Big Quilting AdventureDesign Wall Monday@Patchwork Times and Building Blocks Tuesday@Quilter in the Closet.
September Finishes

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Jumble of Projects

I am so grateful to have 2 healthy kids and it's good to remind myself of that because I am kind of a parenting wreck when my kids are in pain! After our 1st trip to the ER for stitches when our son was about 2 I was so proud of myself of keeping it together... then after he was in bed asleep I called my Mom and cried like a baby.

Our son had his wisdom teeth removed yesterday and we had a long stretch mid afternoon where the pain meds weren't keeping up. Then they finally kicked in and he slept on and off for the next 16 hours. By then I was too stressed out to attempt much though, so I pulled out my favorite comfort sewing.
But after a few blocks I went back to reading a book, filling/applying ice packs and slept in until 9:30 this morning. I never sleep that late anymore! Today he is feeling much better and I look forward to some productive sewing and I know our son is ready to have me stop hovering over him too. Win win.

I DID finish quilting my big top on Thursday night and I'm rather happy with how it turned out. On to binding which will be machine sewn (thank goodness!).
 I've got 2 more tops & batting rolled up on the floor waiting for backings.
 And my next quilting project draped over the door.
I don't care much for this "production line" mentality... times like this are dangerously close to making my fun hobby a bit too job-like. But I'm looking forward to checking them out of my UFO Collection at the same time!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quiltathon and Blog Hop Winners

Hats off to everyone who quilts large tops on their domestic machines! Seriously... I am in awe of you. Moving this top around is a bit of work. In fact I'll just say it - I'm a big time WIMP! And, yes, I know this isn't even big as in king or queen size, but it is huge to me. Wimpy Wimpy Wimpy... that's me.
I had to take a break and work on a kid size top so I could relax for while. I'm loving the teal thread on this one!
Now I'm back at the biggie and hoping to get to halfway done tonight. Our son gets his wisdom teeth out tomorrow morning so I think I'll have some time to shove push guide it along while he's dozing in the adjacent family room after we get home. I've got the ice packs ready to go and fingers crossed for an uneventful recovery over the weekend.

The lucky numbers chosen by Mr. Random for my Pin It Blog Hop Giveaway were...
who are...
Congratulations to Linda and Bettina! Both have already replied and I will making their wristband pincushions next week. Thanks to everyone who entered and left such wonderful comments on Monday. I enjoyed getting ideas for new color combinations too.