Thursday, July 18, 2019

Finish Along Quarter 3 Goals

Oh man, LIFE is kicking me around right now.  It's been one thing after another for several months.  But, I am coming in under the wire to post this because finishing my unfinished projects is important to me.  And having a goal really helps.  And, its just fun to join in with other people who probably feel the same way!

I am limiting my list this quarter to the things from the last list that didn't get done. (In other words, the whole list, minus two items.)  Progress has been made on at least two of these since making the earlier list, so, there's a good chance those will be in the finished come October.  Ummm, I just did a mental run through of the next three months, and that chance might not be so good after all.  But, I gotta try!

Scrappy Stars



Quilting has begun on this!  I'm stuck in the "hate" phase of the love/hate relationship I always have while quilting a quilt.  All I'm seeing are mistakes and flaws and batting that is too puffy.  I know that the second the binding is on I'll love it again...but, oh I hope I get there quick!

Hello Fall Half Square Triangle Quilt



I made some progress last quarter.  I decided on a layout, organized the HST's that had been sewn and cut background fabric to make more.  I have visions of snuggling under this on the living room couch on the first chilly night this fall.  Fingers crossed!

Doll Sized Hospital Gowns



Haven't touched these.  They are destined for A Doll Like Me.  Our 4-H club will be sponsoring a doll or two next month and sending some tied fleece blankets that can be sent to siblings of children receiving dolls.hope I can finish these gowns and send them along at the same time. 

Cord Keepers



I know, I know.  I could finish these the next time I have a half hour to kill.  Sewing Velcro on is just so NOT exciting, though.  And I have NO purpose for them.  There's just no motivation to get them done.  And so they sit.  Maybe soon they will be done?

That's it.  That's all I'm even going to think about for this quarter.  I know there will be other projects that come up including two or three more fabric post cards.  And there will be at least one musical to sew for.  So, I'll be lucky to  get to two of my goals again.  But it will feel so good to cross them off the list, even at that!

Linking up (with mere minutes to go...) to the Finish Along Post at Throw a Wrench in the Works

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Round Robin Mini Quilt Finish


Oh goodness, life has a way of going awry sometimes!  My wonderful mornings spent sewing before going in to teach afternoon 4K evaporated a few days after my last post when I was offered a part time special ed job in the mornings.  It was a wonderful way to end the school year.  And!  It developed into a full time Special Ed  job for next year.  Which is wonderful, and overwhelming and means I will once again have a long distance relationship with my sewing machine.  Long distances between sewing sessions, I mean.  What's more, my "regular" afternoon job opened up an opportunity for me to teach summer school, which has been fun and is helping me to fund things I want for my new classroom...so it's great.  But, it means that I have not had my usual summer fling with my machine.  Poor girl.  No fling, no promise of long mornings spent stitching, no regular projects in the coming year.  Over the last week, however, with both the Finish Along Quarter Two deadline AND the county fair looming, I have managed to get in an hour or so of sewing a few days. I am much chagrined that I have only two finishes from my Quarter Two list to report.  And a bit embarrassed (and a little proud) that one of those finishes came to be mere hours before the deadline.  (I mean, I could have just skipped it, but I bypassed the opportunity for a nap to finish binding so I could do a quick blog entry and link up.  There's something to be proud of there, right??)

This mini quilt has been an unfinished thorn in my side for a while, and now its done! It started out as a round robin project with a quilting pen pal.  Somehow in our correspondence with each other, it wasn't clearly communicated that I wanted the center medallion I sent her to end up being a mini quilt for my sewing room wall.  After her second round with the quilt, it arrived back to me with six inch borders on an already 18 inch block...and it was HUGE.  Too huge for the wall, anyway, and I had no interest in it as a bed or lap quilt.  And, as a result of two of us working on it with different skill levels, some of the "rounds" were uneven and the whole quilt was not quite square.  The two of us have different color preferences and stashes, too, so, the fabrics she chose did't quite blend with mine.  So, the quilt sat and our pen-palship fizzled.  In the spirit of the First Quarter Finish Along, I finally removed the wide border, and added a skinny outer border that would make it look "finished", but then I put it away because I worried about how wonky and un-square it was.  I was pretty sure that straight line quilting would accentuate the problems and I'd end up with a wavy quilt on my wall.



I finally decided that done was better than perfect, and chose a quilting pattern. Man, was this fun to quilt with my walking foot!!!  So zen-like, quilting row after row.  Sewing always relaxes me, but this was like a spa treatment!  I really love the look of the "split log cabin" style quilting.  As I suspected, however, it did make the un-square (because of a wonky border added by my swap partner) quilt pooch out in the middle.  No amount of pressing or trimming would make it lie or hang flat, I 'm afraid.  And that's ok, I realized.  It will hand on the sewing room wall, and I'll smile when I see it.  I will remember that life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful!



So, today, with a deadline breathing down my neck, I bound it.  I used a "trick" for joining the binding ends that I learned  when I took my paper piecing class in May.  The trick originated with Nancy Zieman (or at least she made it popular and the person who taught me learned it from her...).  It's really nifty, and you can watch it here.  It allowed me to finish up my binding on the first try!  No stress!  No unpicking!  And, while I really wanted to sit on the deck and hand stitch the binding to the back, I needed a really fast finish (deadline, remember?) so I machine stitched it.  It's not perfect.  But it's done!  And, I've decided that I will enter it in the county fair in a few weeks - imperfections and all!  I don't expect a ribbon, but this little quilt has a story to tell, so off to the fair she goes!

I'm linking up with the Finish Along Second Quarter Finishes post at Sarah Goer Quilts, just in the nick of time!  I'll be ending my evening with Carry Out Pizza and some perusing of the fabulous links there!  Maybe a beverage, too.  It is, after all, summer!

Time to start thinking about my goals for quarter three! That link up opens tomorrow!   I may not have much time to sew, but having a goal gets me in the sewing room when I do find a minute or two!

Monday, May 06, 2019

Paper Piecing Class

Learning to do paper piecing has been on my list for YEARS!  I have had a general idea of how it works but have never tried.  (Well, I THOUGHT I had a general idea, but after taking a class I have learned that I wasn't quite right...)  I always admire the fun paper pieced blocks that I see on Instagram.  There is an endless amount of designs!  And, after piecing the cactus block for my daughter's Easter Basket, I knew that there HAD to be a better way to create cute picture type blocks than trying to piece teeny tiny squares into triangles and such.  

So, when I noticed that there was a paper piecing class at Mill House Quilts in Waunakee, Wi on the last Friday of my Spring Break, I decided to sign up.  Spring Break was kind of yucky this year.  The weather was blah, we didn't travel, my daughter had her wisdom teeth out and I had a tooth fixed, there were other appointments and studying for APUSH...not much in the way of fun.  Driving, by myself, an hour and a half to take a three hour class and then driving, by myself, home, seemed like just the ticket!  

And it was!  Friday was a lovely morning, and it's such a pretty drive.  The Rock River and the Craw Fish River both run along the rural highways that I needed to take.  With the rain (and April snow) that we've been having, the rivers are both high and very visible from the road.  I know that parts of my route had endured some pretty severe flooding recently, but Oh, My!  With all the shades of  new spring green on the ground and in the trees, and the clear blue morning sky, the river views that I spied on my way to Mill House were just breathtaking.  I thoroughly enjoyed the drive there, complete with a cup of coffee and my favorite station on the radio.  When that station went out of range I finished with a Beatles CD.  Perfect.



I had never been to Mill House Quilts before.  It's a beautiful shop in a really pretty little town.  The building, as you can guess from the name, is an old mill that is situated next to the railroad tracks.  When I arrived, I headed straight up to the large classroom on the upper level, but I really wanted to explore the shop!  It has a cozy and inviting feel, despite its large size.  Luckily, there was time for that after class.

The class was taught by Kathy Doyle .  There were only three of us in the class, so we had lots of individualized attention.  It was so nice to get to chat with the other ladies, even if I will likely never see them again.  I so wish I had real life friends who quilted.  I really enjoy those connections.  The bit of time spent in this class has strengthened my resolve to get myself to a quilt retreat soon!

We were told to bring our own paper piecing pattern to the class.  Some suggestions were made on the materials list, but evidently those were only available for purchase in the store.  Since I had never been there, and it wasn't specified, I didn't know that.  I searched online for them, but without luck.  I ended up browsing through a LOT of  web sites, and settled on some fairly traditional blocks. I took two options along, since I wasn't really sure which would work best.   I wanted to do something more....pictorial...but many of those had lots and lots of really tiny pieces and looked very intricate.  I knew that if I was going to have a good experience I needed to start out basic and with something  I could complete.  The other two quilters in the class had chosen the same pattern, and both completed just a small portion of it in the time allotted.  But, the little cats and stacks of quilts they did complete were darling!



Once I understood the process, I was able to work pretty quickly through my little "hummingbird" blocks.  The most challenging part was making sure that my fabric was positioned correctly so that it would cover the intended space after sewing.  I took more than one seam out because it didn't fit.  I learned to use larger pieces, and to always flip before sewing.  I think that with practice I will work out a system that works for me, and I think that judging the angle of the pieces will become easier. 

One thing that bothered me a bit about the process is that it seemed to create a lot of waste.  Maybe t was because I was using such large pieces to  ensure that they covered the space, but I kept feeling like I was ending up with SO many oddly sized scraps that wouldn't really be usable in another way.  I suppose that's just a fundamental difference between piecing and paper piecing.  But, if anyone has a tips about this, I'd love to hear them!

I really enjoyed the process of removing the papers once the block was finished.  Its so satisfying!

I keep thinking about making the "star" a neutral and letting the octagon in the center come forward in bold prints.

Table runner?

It would be fun to quilt the "shadow" of the stars in those open spaces!


I'm not sure yet what I will do with the 4 cute little blocks I completed during the class.  They will hang on the design wall for a bit, as a happy reminder of a lovely day, while I finish some things from my Second Quarter Finish Along list.  Eventually, maybe they will become a pillow or a mini quilt or even a table runner.  I'm looking forward to another opportunity to do some paper piecing.  I hope  don't forget how!

After class, I was in no hurry to rush home. So, I spent about an hour browsing in the shop.  There was a lot to see!  I generally don't buy fabric without a specific purpose, but I made an exception to celebrate my "spring break adventure." 
I want to do a table runner based on Stars and Stripes by Thimbleblossoms.  I think a lot of my reds and whites will come from these charm packs.  And I could't resist this patriotic fat quarter.




Swoon! I just love this.  This was the end of the bolt, and I don't think there's enough here to make myself a top, but, wouldn't that be cute?  Maybe my daughter can make herself something.


I think I'm going to start collecting text prints.  Any and all of them.  
I'm so glad I took a day for myself and visited Mill House Quilts.  It was such a lovely day.  I will  visit again, and I won't hesitate to look for more classes to take!











Sunday, April 21, 2019

Mini Quilts - A Double Finish

My little "secret sewing" projects that I included on my Second Quarter Finish Along list are completed, have been gifted, and can be revealed!  Yay!



These two little quilts were made for my sweet, silly daughters.  The Easter Bunny tucked them into their baskets this morning.  Somehow, the bunny and I managed to keep them secret! 


Both patterns were purchased from Burlap & Blossom, an adorable Etsy shop.  She has a LOT of sweet patterns, and they are all traditional piecing. The patterns were easy to print and easy to follow. I will buy from her again, for sure!  I will think twice about making the 6 inch blocks, though.  Making half square triangles with squares that start out at 3/4 of an inch is not for the faint of heart!! 



The little flowers on this cactus show how much I struggled with this.  Poor things.  If I had had more time, and if I wasn't limited to sewing these when the girls were out of the house, I might have re done those parts.  But, I figure cactus flowers come in all shapes and sizes.  Maybe these were nibbled on by a road runner or an armadillo.  I decided to leave them be.  And, as a whole, I think this little guy is pretty charming.



I used the same cute mini dot background for both quilts, and I kind of wish I hadn't.  I think that the coffee cup quilt needs more contrast.  I LOVE the lid fabric, but it blends too much into the background, and the overall shape gets lost.  Again, if I had more time...



I'm not sure if the girls will hang the quilts in their rooms, or their lockers or use them as mug rugs.  They finish at about 6x9, so they would work for that purpose, too.  I do know that these won't be the last minis that I make for my daughters.  They are fun and pretty quick to make, and I can envision future dorm room walls covered with quilted memories from Mom.  I can dream, right?


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Quarter Two Finish Along List

When I made my first quarter Finish Along list in January, April seemed very far way.  And so it is now, making my second quarter list.  July 1st seems to be an eternity away.  Yet, here it is, mid April, in the blink of an eye.  Another blink and summer will be here.

While I didn't finish everything on the first quarter list, having the list to follow definitely helped me to stay focused and committed to finishing some long neglected projects.  Between those finishes and the Project Quilting challenges, I logged more than 10 finishes for the quarter.  There have been years when I haven't finished that many!

This quarter's list might be a bit ambitious, given the scope of some of the projects.  But, I'll give it a try!  Finishing, it turns out, is very satisfying.

Scrappy Stars

This is a finished top, not too big, not too small.  It's a good lap or child size.  It was started to use up some half square triangles that resulted from two different projects.  I also used up a good amount of the squares I had been cutting from scraps.  The challenge with this one will be deciding how to quilt it.  I'm thinking it will be straight line quilted with the walking foot, if I can master using it.  It makes me happy to look at all those bright colors.  Can't wait to have his one done!

Round Robin Mini Quilt
This is a carry over from my first quarter list.  Some progress has been made...it now has an outer border and is basted.  It probably could have been finished last quarter, but, I'm stuck on the quilting.  I thought I might do some log cabin like lines in each of the four quarters.  But, as I planned that out, I realized that the inner borders are not at all straight  I am afraid that linear quilting is going to emphasize how NOT square this mini is.  But, I don't have enough free motion practice, yet, to go that route.  This is a quilt for me, and will hang on the wall, and will make me smile, simply by virtue of its colors.  So, I should probably just go with something straight and simple and get it done.  We'll see.

Doll Sized Hospital Gowns

These were started on a whim in January when Bernie at Needle and Foot posted about the Tiny Gowns she was making for A Doll Like Me.  This was during the time that my daughter was in the hospital.  On one of the days that snow kept me at home instead of being in the hospital with her, I decided to try my hand at some little hospital gowns, too.  I cut and started a few.  Might have finished one...I don't remember.  When they are all done I'll send a package off to Amy so she can included them with the precious dolls she makes, when they are going to a  child facing a hospital stay. Perhaps I'll see if I can get a doll sized quilt made to go with it!

Hello Fall Half Square Triangle Quilt
This is a LONG time WIP.  I don't even remember when it was started.  I know, however, that when I bought the charm packs to use as HST leaders and enders I was excited that the greens in the pack matched the green sofa and love seat in our living room.  Since the walls had recently been painted an autumn orange color (it's prettier than it sounds) I thought I could make a quick sofa quilt that would go perfectly.  Well, the green couches have been gone at least three years.  The walls are still pumpkiny though, so it will be a lovely addition.  And, while we have an assortment of fleece throws that are used constantly. we don't have an actual adult sized quilt that's used downstairs.
There's a lot of work needed on it.  I have no idea how many HSTs I finished, some are pressed and trimmed (I think) and some are not, there's fabric to do more HSTs if needed, and , oh.  I need to decide on a layout.  Getting this one done will be a MAJOR accomplishment.

Cord Keepers
Like the rope bowl on last quarter's list, these are a silly non finish.  They need velcro and top stitching.  That's it.  It will be about a two hour job.  They've been sitting in a bin for two years.  Enough said.

6 inch Quilt Squares for Secret Sewing Project
(This is my first ever secret sewing picture!)  In all honestly, these blocks were just recently started.  I'm adding these to the list because 1. they qualify as a Work In Progress and 2.  because they will be an early finish and I'll get to cross them off the list soon (which Gretchen Rubin says is a good thing to do!).  They are little gifties for my girls' Easter baskets (if life lets me get them done in the next week) and I'm keeping them secret in case anyone snoops.


As I finish my list, snow is falling outside my window.  The long, hot days of July seem so very far away.  Surely I'll be able to finish all of these projects before then!  Right?

Linking up with the Finish Along, and then off to peek at some others' lists of ambitions.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Two More Seasonal "Post Cards"

I've been enjoying making these fabric "post cards" for my friend.  The first four I made for her are here.  The latest two feature a cute girl bunny, and a Mason jar with spring flowers.



I really like the creative process in making these.  Since there is no pattern, it takes a bit of work to come up with a design and then get things sized correctly.  I like that challenge.  I also like the spontaneity involved.  More than once I've stated with a Google image, for one element, like the Mason Jar, but then I change and adapt as I go. It's fun to see where they take me, and sometimes I'm surprised.   I had been planing to embroider the flowers on the Mason Jar, but then, in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking about a fabric with the perfect flowers on it.  Sub conscious,  much?  The next morning before I went down stairs. I stopped in the sewing room and pulled that fabric out of the stack.  So much quicker than embroidery, and so cute, too.



In looking back at the first set and comparing to the latest, I notice that I have moved away from hand sewing in favor of machine applique.  Even the outside edge of these two was machine stitched.  This isn't really a conscious decision on my part.  I just go with the flow with these and machine stitching just felt right.  I won't be surprised if the next few get a bit more hand stitching.

My plan is to keep making these until my friend has a years' worth.  Then, I might try to duplicate some of my designs and make a few more sets.  These little cuties make a perfect "in between" project, and I know a few other people who might like to have a set!


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Rope Bowl Finish

I don't remember when or why I started this rope bowl.  I don't know why it didn't get finished.  I DO know that it sat like this...


a tangled mess...in my Unfinished Projects bin for quite a while.  I knew that it wouldn't take much time to finish it, and it seems really silly that it sat for so long!   I put it on my First Quarter Finish Along list, hoping that would inspire me to get it out of the bin and into use!

And now, it's finished!




Rope Bowls that I've made in the past have been rather floppy, so I was careful to keep this one small and tightly wound.  I also zig zagged the heck out of it.  It used up lots of partial spools of white thread, which makes me happy!  And I have to say, it's pretty sturdy!



I'm not sure what this pretty little thing is destined for.  I don't really have a spot or a need for it.  Maybe it will be a "just because" gift for someone.  For now, it will sit here on a bookshelf where I can see it as I go upstairs.  It just makes me happy to look at it.