Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blanket Ministry Quilts: Bound, Labeled and Soon To Be Delivered

Baby Quilts #2 and #3 for the Blanket Ministry were quilted and bound and finally finished today.  #1 has been finished for several weeks now and the reason why I wasn't in a hurry to finish the other two was because I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt them.

Thankfully, divine quilting inspiration finally kicked in.  When I first started making baby quilts for the Blanket Ministry, my machine quilting skills were pretty basic and something that I wasn't very comfortable with doing.  Since then my machine quilting has vastly improved and am glad I quilted each one of these quilts with a different design.  One of these days I'm going to try free motion quilting.

I will say that once I finished the Blanket Ministry quilts, I feel much joy and satisfaction, especially when I sew these labels on each one of the quilts.

I'm happy I finished the quilts before the end of the month and met my goal of making one baby quilt a month.  These are ready to be dropped off at the coordinator's house which means I am now free to work on other projects with a certain peace of mind for the next two months.   And also I was done before the much anticipated arrival of the first grand baby.  It seems like the grand baby is in no hurry to arrive now.  The plan was to induce by the 24th but the parents are thinking if the baby is fine and under no stress that they will delay the inducement.  I think they must have read a book on to torture new grandparents to be.

I know I'll be busy until the big day because I have three quilts ready to be picked up from my long arm quilter which means I will have binding to do.  It's quite possible I could be hand sewing a binding on one of these quilts in the car when we finally take our road trip down for the delivery.

The fabric fast continues but I know the end is coming soon.  My Fat Quarter Shop Sampler Box for March arrived today and it's absolutely wonderful.  Look what was included in my box, this is definitely a sign that it's time to buy--Cotton + Steel fabric. (This discount is only being offered to Sampler Box Subscribers.)   I'm holding off until April 1st because I want to say my fabric fast lasted a whole three months.

Minus 100 Yards Challenge YTD Total:  -58.25 yards

Meanwhile, still on standby........

Linking up with Sew Some Love Linky

Friday, March 17, 2017

While on Standby, A Quilt Top Finish

Well, the surprise for this week didn't turn out to be the unexpected early arrival of our first grandchild but the Ernie Interrupted quilt top that I wasn't planning on finishing with all of the maneuvering which happened earlier this week.  Long story short, the first grand baby is due next week, for a short time it looked like it was going to be this week but no, still looks like next week.  Let's say the grandparents-to-be are more ready this week than they were last week.

I should have worked on the other two baby quilts I needed to finish for the Blanket Ministry but I wanted to play while my mind and body was on standby.   I chose to work on Ernie Interrupted which I started in November and have been wanting to finish it so I can cross it off on the Project List.  This quilt is #4 of the Ernie Series which my friend Mary Etherington started last year. (you can read about it here). Basically it's a quilt made with blocks of  two 2.5" strips and it's a very versatile pattern and a great stash buster since you can make the block any size you want.  The Ernie Interrupted Quilt was a new idea and used scraps from past projects, although some of the strips were cut from new Cotton + Steel fabrics.  The solid strips were cut 2.5" x 8-1/2" and the other strips were made from four patches of 2.5" low volume squares.  Each block had three rows of solid strips alternated with three rows of four-patch strips and measures 8-1/2" x 12-1/2".  This quilt is made up of forty-two blocks and measures 56"x 72".  The reason I named this quilt Ernie Interrupted is because I had an idea to make the blocks looked like solid patches of fabric being interrupted with rows of low volume patches which made the sewing slow because I have to carefully lay out and sew the strips in the order they were cut.  It turned out this desired effect can't be seen except on a few blocks since some of the connections were hidden by the seam lines. In hindsight, this could have gone a lot faster if I didn't have this brainstorm.

I have to say that making this quilt was tedious with all of the cutting, ironing the four-patch strips with the seams open, laying the blocks out to make sure the strips were in order and each of the four patch strips had different prints and then sewing the blocks which made me wonder why I was spending all this time on a project which mostly used old fabric and that I should be making something with new fabric.  But once the blocks were sewn together, I really, really love how this quilt turned out.  I would make this again but without worrying about the solid strips.  Now the plan is to quilt it with horizontal straight lines but then I'm thinking maybe making this a coverlet with gray Minky on the back--wait, no more brainstorming and I'll stick to the original plan.

Since I started my blog,  my goal is to post once a week and then link up with Crazy Mom's Finish It Up Friday which is why I like to have a project done.  I really thought  I wasn't going to be able to post this week but wanted to because of my participation in the 2017 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. If I didn't finish Ernie Interrupted, the best I could have offered was a pincushion I made from a leftover block for my new table caddy.  When it comes to accessories for my studio I tend to take more of a MacGyver Make Do approach rather than a Martha Stewart Let's Make it Pretty approach.  Empty tuna cans and plastic containers from salad mixes work fine for me.  My pretty but small caddy wasn't working and I saw this large plastic caddy for $2.50 at Walmart and thought this would be the perfect replacement.  I just didn't like the empty space beneath the handle, so I thought a pincushion would look nice there.  The new table caddy is definitely for the studio only and I will use the pretty caddy for outside the studio.

I'll be the first to say that the Ernie Interrupted Quilt makes a more interesting Post than the table caddy makeover.  Here's hoping for a happy post for next week.

Minus 100 Yards Challenge YTD Total:  -52.25 yards

Thursday, March 9, 2017

First Baby Quilt for the Blanket Ministry This Year and It Had to Have Pink

I've belong to the Blanket Ministry at my church for the past four years and am committed to making one baby quilt a month which by the end of 2016, I made a total of 45 baby quilts.  When the Blanket Ministry first started, we didn't have enough boy or gender neutral quilts, there were a lot of flowers and pink, so I volunteered to make the gender neutral and boy quilts.  At that time, it felt like a sacrifice on my part since I considered myself to be "Pink" deprived being a mother of two sons.  Last year I told the leader of the group that I needed to make a quilt with pink and with flowers and I finally did for my 36th quilt.  This past weekend, I made two tops and had one made from last year so I was ready to start quilting them so I can reach my quarterly goal of three baby quilts by the end of this month.  The first one I quilted, of course, had to be the one that had pink which was also the first top I made with my favorite pattern which I posted about in an earlier link (you can read about it here).

I usually hand sew the binding on my quilts but for baby quilts I like to sew down the binding by machine using my walking foot.  After I finished sewing the binding on this quilt, I was surprised to see all the skipped stitches there were--bad enough that I had to rip out all of the binding.  I didn't notice the stitches were skipping since I was so concentrated on making sure the stitching stayed on the binding.  This is the first time my Juki 2010Q has done this so according to the manual it was either my needle was bent or it was not inserted properly.  So I changed my needle, made sure it was inserted properly and rethreaded but the stitches were still skipping.  I ended up using an open toe foot which eliminated this problem but I didn't like how it was pushing up the binding while I was sewing.    I'm hoping I won't have this problem with the other two baby quilts I still have to finish.

Looking at the stash that I've put aside for these baby quilts, it looks like this may be the only pink one I will make for the year since I still have a lot left for gender neutral baby quilts which needs to be used up.  So out of the now 46 baby quilts made for the Blanket Ministry, only three of them had pink.  Maybe I'll have a chance to make another pink baby quilt--Grandbaby Mikulski will be arriving at the end of the month and the gender is unknown until the delivery.  I've been saving some really sweet fabrics and hoping that I'll get to use them.  If not, there's also the cute Monster fabric, which in my opinion, is so right for a boy.

My fabric fast is still continuing and I will be able to add more to my total since I just dropped off three quilts at the long arm quilter.  I just read on another quilter's blog that she fabric fasted for three months and finally bought fabric because she needed a certain solid fabric to finish her quilt.  I could very well make it to three months and when I do finally buy fabric it's going to be something I really want and I think it's going to involve some of the new Cotton + Steel fabrics --just love those whales.

Minus 100 Yard Challenged YTD Total:  -48.625 yards

Friday, March 3, 2017

Brackman Bricks & Stepping Stones Quilt Top Finish

There are two types of "finish" when it comes to my quilting projects: it's a "finish" when a quilt top is done and a "finally finish" when the quilt is quilted and bound.  I have to admit that I have more finishes than finally finishes and sometimes there are many years in between when one of my quilts goes from finish to finally finish.  This doesn't bother me as much as an UFO which for me is when the patches are cut and ready to be sewn into blocks or the blocks are done and ready to be sewn together for a top.  UFOs happen because I get distracted by another project or I've decided to put it aside because I'm not quite sure if this is something I want to continue to sew.   My 2017 Project List initially had 46 projects in which eight of them are UFOs.  From these eight UFOs, the Brackman Bricks and Stepping Stones was my oldest UFO which I started almost four years ago and I can now say it is a finish.   I could really to go into details about the thought process and the making of this quilt top but then this post would be in written in chapters; I'll just give some tidbits instead.
  • I originally intended to make Bonnie Hunter's Lozenge Quilt (see it here)  which I thought would use up a lot of the stash and scraps from the early Barbara Brackman fabric lines I have accumulated. I spent several days picking fabrics, rotary cutting around 350 3-1/2" x 6-1/2" rectangles and over a thousand 2" squares and then drew sewing lines on the back of the 2" squares which were going to be the connecting corners.  After doing all of this work, I decided that I didn't want to sew all of these squares onto the rectangles so the patches just sat on my shelf while I figured out over the course of the next few years what to make with them.
  • My answer turned out to be a version of another Bonnie Hunter pattern; Bricks and Stepping Stones see it here, I just needed to change the patch sizes so I could use what was already cut and it turned out I had more than what was needed.  So from the thousand of 2" squares with the lines drawn on the back, I sewed matching four patches, some blue/light and some red/light.  By the time I finished sewing the four patches, I once again I put the project back on the shelf because I wanted to work on something else.  
  • When I was compiling my 2017 project list, I decided that this quilt will be put on the list and I would finish the top once and for all.  Last week I devoted a lot of time sewing the four patches to the rectangles and then this week sewed the blocks together while going back and forth in my mind as to what size I wanted to make the top.  I had enough rectangles to make a king size top but I would have to make another 100 four patch units which didn't thrill me.  I need a new king size quilt for my bed during the Winter but couldn't decide if I wanted it to be this quilt with the Brackman fabrics which would mean I would need to make a new wallhanging.  In the end, I decided that this quilt would be a bed quilt for the guest room or for the family room couch.  It measures 78" x 90".
  • This quilt is definitely going to my longarm quilter and there's a strong possibility that it can be a finally finish for 2017. I just had to decide if that's what I want it to be.  BTW, this quilt did not make a dent in the Barbara Brackman stash.
For me, I like having a mix assortment of projects; some that appeal to the task oriented/practical side of me which are the projects that I can use up scraps from past projects or stash accumulated from past purchases and some that appeal to the play side where I am inspired to make something immediately because of something I've seen,  like on Pinterest, and I happen to have the right fabric in my stash.  It seems like I  am forever balancing my projects and trying to decide what I should be making; this is why I like having a Project List.   And when I get overwhelm and can't decide, I know it's time to take a break.  Fortunately, this doesn't happen too often.

This week, I also finished five more Smitten Blocks which means I watched a lot of Gilmore Girls.  These blocks were a little easier than the first five I made so far and I'm still enjoying the process.  The making of a voodoo doll named Carol has not yet crossed my mind.

It's now March and I did not buy any fabric during January or February--two whole months of fabric fasting--this is a big record for me!

Minus 100 Yards Challenge YTD Total: -45.625 yards

It helps now that I'm blogging and reading other quilters' blogs that I don't shop or look for fabric online, I'm even resisting the sales.  I love finding inspiration or like-minded quilters with the same angsts as me online.  I've been invited to participate in the 2017 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop so I will be learning how to improve my blog, increase my blogging skills and get more involved in the online quilting community.  I am so excited.  


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Another UFO Finish: Indigo Tiles Quilt

We've been experiencing wonderful Spring-like weather here in the Midwest and I couldn't resist taking a photo of my Indigo Tiles Quilt outside with some of my wooden birds as props for a seaside vibe or am I channeling a scene from the Alfred Hitchcock's movie "The Birds"?

I made the Indigo Tiles Quilt top back in the summer of 2014 and I used Janet Clare's Hearty Good Wishes, Moda Indigo Collection and other Japanese Indigo prints I had in my stash.  I've been wanting to machine quilt this top for so long and thought I was ready to do it last week but somehow at the last minute decided to take a pause.  I'm glad I did because originally I had planned to do organic vertical straight line quilting and realized several days ago that my quilting should be horizontal instead and then I was ready.

This is the first quilt that I've done an entire quilt with organic straight lines.  I just love how the quilting turned out; the fluid movement of the horizontal organic lines really accentuates the prints from Hearty Good Wishes. Before I started to machine quit,  I read two great tutorials on organic straight line quilting:
The key to doing organic straight line quilting is making sure you mark registration lines or have seam lines which can help you guide your stitching so that it ends at the same height as it began.  You don't want to create an uphill or downhill movement on one side of your quilt.  I used my walking foot, set my stitch length at 5.0 stitch line and used a blue denim variegated thread.  Again, I really loved how the quilting turned out and will do it again on the right quilt.

Indigo Tiles measures 48" x 64" and the blocks are 16" finished.  I based this block on something I saw on Pinterest which used 2-1/2" strips and thought I could make it using my 4-1/2" x 8-1/2" rectangle die.  This is such an easy block made with eight of the same size rectangles.  I thought I could find a link for this block but couldn't so I'm providing a hand-drawn diagram to show how simple this block is.  This block design can be used for other strip sizes as you can see on the diagram.

When I bought the Hearty Good Wishes and Moda Indigo fabrics back in 2014, I immediately made a bag from Missouri Star Quilt Co.'s pattern The Everything Bag (here) and it's a big bag.  I use it to pack the quilts we take on our vacations/road trips and I now have a matching quilt to go with this bag.  I can see taking my new combo on vacations to Michigan, the Oregon Coast or anywhere there is a deep blue ocean or lake.

In other sew-doings, I finished #5 Smitten Block this week and ready to start the next set of hexagons which means choosing and preparing fabrics and watching more Gilmore Girls.

I consider myself to be a modern-traditional quilter and like to use my traditional fabrics in a modern setting.  Since I've been doing a lot of quilts lately with my modern fabric stash, I thought I should spend some time with my traditional stash by sewing the rest of the blocks I made with my Barbara Brackman fabrics over four years ago.  It's one of those projects that I saw a pattern, thought it would use up a lot of the BB stash, cut all the pieces (before I had a die-cutter) and then decided I couldn't bear to sew all those 1" HST and came up with another pattern.  BTW, I still have a lot of BB stash.  I'm hoping to have a quilt top done this weekend.

The fabric fast continues and the month of February is almost over and I still have not purchased any fabric.  I'm really looking forward to receiving my FQS Sew Sampler Box this week.

Minus 100 Yard Challenge YTD Total - 37.875

Friday, February 17, 2017

Burp Cloths: A Boo-Boo and A Re-Do

Lots of Life happening this week:  Baby Shower II Preparation, Income Tax preparation, celebrating Valentines Day, attending the monthly Senior Luncheon, Volunteer Ministry Commitment and traveling in addition to watching the Westminster Dog Show on TV for two nights which means very little time to work on one of the many quilt projects on my list.

The second baby shower for my youngest son and his wife is this weekend and will be a little bit more relaxing for me since I don't have any hosting responsibilities.  Nevertheless, I didn't want to come empty-handed, so I thought I would make a bundle of burp cloths which would allow me to use up some up more stash.  I thought making twelve of them (two of the same print) would be a nice number to make and of course they have to be gender neutral.  I decided that I would make six with a flannel backing and six with white toweling fabric which I had in my stash and had bought when I was thinking about making reuseable paper towels.

I found a free pattern on Pinterest and printed it and I swear I checked to make sure it was set to print at 100%  Fortunately for me, I did a test run of the pattern and could tell that it was way too small.  Also, I didn't like that I had to basically cut the pieces by hand because of the curves, so I came up with an alternative pattern which can be entirely cut with a rotary cutter.

I cut two pieces, 9" x 20", one for the front and one for the back.  Folding the two pieces together, RST, along the long edge, I rounded the corners using Sharon Hultgren's Easy Circle Cut Ruler and then unfolded, found the center and then cut the neck notch using the 7" circle mark  (it's not a complete 7" half circle, I lined it up at the top of the blue masking tape which is approx. 2" under the 7" mark to create a more rounded oval cut).  I sewed with a 1/4" seam all around,  leaving a 2-3" opening on the straight side, clipped around all the curve areas, turned right side out, press and then top-stitched all the way around to close the opening.  This was a quick and easy pattern. fat quarter friendly and I'm sure I would have enjoyed making them more if I hadn't decided to make twelve at one time.

When both of my boys were babies, I used cloth diapers for burp cloths and I can say these burp cloths are way cuter.  I'll be sure to mention to my son at the Shower that his baby will have better burp cloths than he did.  That's what happens when your mama didn't sew back then.

I know I'm going to have to make more of these once the baby is born and the gender finally revealed and I'm thinking of doing them without the neck notch to make them even faster.  Also, I love how the toweling fabric feels which is similar to the old-time rotating cloth towel dispensers that were around when I was young, so I'm thinking of making hand towels with it using some more stash.  I'll first make a few to test to see how well they launder and also to train the men in the house that these are not disposable.

Looking forward to resuming my quilt projects and hopefully I will have something finish for next week.  And still another week of no fabric purchases.

Minus 100 Yards Challenge YTD Total : - 34.375 yards

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Kingwell Sew Alongs: Flutterby Quilt Finished and Still Smitten-ing

I previously posted about doing two sew alongs this year both involving a Kingwell:  Flutterby by Jen Kingwell and Smitten by Lucy Carson Kingwell (you can read the post here) which is sort of ironic since I barely recovered from my Gypsy Wife experience and never thought I would do another  pattern by Jen Kingwell.  Though Flutterby is much more simpler than Gypsy Wife, ( I changed the dimensions so I could use my die-cutter 😊) it still was head spinning which could be due to each of the thirty blocks having 36 patches and trying to make sure that each one of the prints were different in each block.  I also had to be careful that the HRT patches were sewn in the correct orientation which  for an angle-challenge person makes the sewing slow.  And then there's the quilt layout where I wanted to make sure the same print weren't in the same vicinity and that's when I finally began to feel dizzy and decided then that there is so much movement in this quilt, it's wasn't going to be too noticeable if the same print is right next to each other.

If that wasn't challenging enough for me to make a quilt with over a thousand patches, I decided I wanted to do 1/2" skinny straight line quilting which there were problems in the beginning, my fault and not my Juki's, and it turned out pretty well despite a few puckers in the backing.  Flutterby measures 60" x 72" and I didn't use any of my much-loved Cotton + Steel fabrics because I felt I've been ignoring the other wonderful prints in my stash. Fabrics were from Zen Chic which was given to me from an exchange with Connie Tesene, several Allison Glass charm packs and other modern and low volume prints.  The Flutterby pattern is from Jen Kingwell's Quilt Lovely book and there are other patterns I may want to do now with Cotton + Steel and my die-cutter but will give my head a much needed rest before  I do.

I've now finished four out of the twenty-seven full hexagons (these measure 10" x 12") needed for the Smitten Quilt and am still friends with Carol who got me started on this project.  I like how these blocks turned out and enjoy sewing them while binge watching Gilmore Girls.  I've now watched 30 episodes and it looks like it's taking me an average of almost eight episodes to complete one block which is pretty slow since each episode is 45 minutes long.  I am finding that I'm getting faster and it's easier for me if I baste through the paper and not tacking down at the corners.  I have one more block left to make of this hexagon type and these might be the easiest out of all the other hexagons.  There's only five and half seasons left of Gilmore Girls for me to watch so in the event I'm not done with Smitten by the end of the series, I have another TV series lined up to watch:  Blue Bloods.  I used to be smitten with Tom Selleck.

Minus 100 Yard Challenge YTD Total:  - 31.375 yards

I still haven't bought any new fabric and we're past the first week of February.  Thankfully, I just received my monthly Cotton + Steel fabric package from Pink Cast Fabric and enjoyed oogling over the twelve fat quarters.  But best of all, I just received a wonderful gift of feedsack squares from a fellow blogger who is also a feedsack lover and am amazed that all of the prints were those I don't have.  As I said in an earlier post, feedsack fabrics and friends go together.  I think I'm going to make it through the end of February because by then I will be receiving my FQS Sew Sampler box.

Sew Strong!