Feb 172013

I watched an old episode of The Quilt Show the other day, I’m not going to say which one, and a well known quilter (which I will call BNQ for Big Name Quilter) said (I paraphrase), “You don’t have to finish every project. And don’t give them to charity, they don’t want ugly quilts.”

WTF? I was shocked! Not give your “ugly” quilts to charity? How can she presume no one will want what you don’t want? Granted, there are some charities that are fussy about what they receive, but there are plenty of others who will gladly take your quilt no matter how ugly you think it is. After all, “ugly” is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve made plenty of quilts I thought were ugly, yet others who saw them thought they were lovely. Ms. BNQ made her comment while sitting in front of a prize-winning quilt she’d made (and I assume thought was lovely since she was proudly showing it off) that I thought was damned ugly. Ugly is a matter of opinion.

There are some quilts that you shouldn’t donate – such as, if they would be hazardous to children or will fall apart with the first washing. And not every quilt will suite every charity, because needs vary. Some groups collect quilts for cheering up young patients. They will prefer colorful quilts that are soft and cuddly (flannel backs are nice). Others collect quilts to distribute after disasters. They want anything that will keep people warm and stand up to hard use. Ugly is fine, as long as the quilt is warm and durable (they often prefer polyester battings for warmth). And some collect art quilts to auction off – sure, they don’t want ugly, but we’re back to who decides what is ugly?

If you have an ugly quilt, there is a charity somewhere that will take it. Or wait for the next disaster, they seem to happen every year or two, somewhere in the world. But ferchrissakes, don’t throw away anything that could keep someone warm. They will love it no matter what it looks like.

Now the other part, not finishing every project, I sort of agree with. You don’t have to finish the project you started. But that doesn’t means toss it if you can possibly make something else from it. If you didn’t ever put those swap blocks together because the size differs? Add a wide frame around them and trim to size, make it wonky if you like. Sew them together and add borders until you’ve got a bed-size quilt. That one fabric faded badly and you wonder if it will last? Cut up the rest and use it in a scrap quilt. Never quilted that top you made in a mystery quilt because you didn’t like the result? Someone else will love it.

Get it done, donate it, and you’re rid of it. Throwing it away wastes not only the earth’s resources (wait until I get ranting about what cotton farming does to our topsoil), but your time and effort. Maybe you learned something from the experience, that’s fine but it doesn’t mean it’s okay to toss it. Cut it up, sure. Learn to free-motion quilt on it, or give it to a new long-arm owner to practice on. But finish something and by all means, donate the result. Just pick the right charity.

 February 17, 2013  Posted by at 10:34 am Uncategorized 2 Responses »
Feb 062013

I should be focused on finishing UFOs, but I got sidetracked by a shiny new project.  I made the mistake of watching a Quilt Show episode where Ricky Tims demonstrates his Kaleidoscope technique, and I took notes. It looked like so much fun – and simple and easy. Why is it I think “simple” and “easy” are synonyms for “quick”? They aren’t.

Next morning I had to try drawing the pattern, before I forgot what I’d seen and couldn’t understand my notes anymore. Here it is; the lines are a little hard to see, but those funny marks are to keep track of exactly how the pieces fit together.

Fifteen minutes and I was done. After that I couldn’t resist pulling fabric. And then cutting strips, which are shown here laid out on my table roughly divided into five piles.  At that point I left them overnight, and next morning I rearranged a few. Then I realized that with strips all over my layout table, I couldn’t work on the strip-QAYG project.  And that project was using my other machine (with a walking foot), for which I don’t have a 1/4 inch foot and have trouble controlling the speed.

So I swapped sewing machines. Before I could start sewing the Kaleidoscope strips into strata I figured I’d better get a little more free-motion work done, since the darning foot was already on the machine. I finished the quilting on the project formerly known as Nightmare, a sort of flame design.

Then I grabbed a small flower thing which I had used years ago to try free-motion for the fourth or fifth time and filled in the background. It’s been wanting some stitching on the leaves and flower ever since. Now that’s done. It measures about 7 by 15 inches, a little too long for an AAQI donation, so I may trim it down before binding. I think it needs a new back too.

That out of the way I switched feet and set about sewing strips together. Great opportunity to use up the bits of thread on half a dozen almost-empty bobbins, so I did. I never seem to have enough bobbins. No matter how many I buy, I run out. I’m also trying to use up some old spools of Coats and Clark thread that are 10 to 20 years old. I’ve tossed at least 3 empty spools in the trash recently, so that’s progress. Here are the strips about half done, I’m now down to the last two seams but I needed a break.

That’s my WIPS and free-motion work for this week. Maybe next week I’ll have some finishes to show off.

 February 6, 2013  Posted by at 5:07 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along, Weekly Review 1 Response »
Feb 032013

I started work on two UFOs this week (that’s finishing, not starting). The first one was a “calendar” project, where I sewed one strip on each day. That was all the sewing I had time for while in law school, which means I sewed it no later than 2005. Instead of one long pieced strip I started a new one with each quarter, so I had these four long strips:

Instead of adding background and calling it good, because it wouldn’t have been all that good, I cut the strips up into 2 1/2 inch wide strips, cutting them short wherever it seemed like a good idea. Doing that kept the pieces manageable and allowed some correction for the crooked parts in the original (which were 8 inches wide).

Then I sewed them all back together, using  2 1/2 inch wide scraps ranging from about 4 to 10 inches long. I sewed them all into one Mother Strip. Meanwhile I had cut strips of a red floral, long enough to use as alternate stripes on the final quilt. I’m sewing it QAYG style – directly onto batting and backing.

Meanwhile, my next handwork project is this applique block, which has languished for years. At least ten years, if memory serves (some days it doesn’t serve very well). At the rate I’m stitching, it may take another ten to finish it. I’m adding leaves to the outside (green) portion by cutting away an inch or two ahead of my needle as I work, a cut-as-you-go technique. It’s also design-as-you-go; I visualize the leaves slightly ahead of my scissors.

That’s it for this week, if I’m lucky I can finish the strip thing by this time next week. It may depend on how many doctor appointments my husband has, since he can’t drive. Though if I remember to take the applique along I could make some progress on that one.

 February 3, 2013  Posted by at 2:39 pm UFO of the Week 3 Responses »
Feb 012013

I’ve now got a small pile of quilted projects ready for binding. One project needs a little more free motion work, but I set it aside to work on a QAYG charity quilt. When that one is done the entire batch will get bound.

I did have one craft fail when I accidentally quilted two small projects together. After considering tossing the whole mess, I carefully cut away the back quilt, leaving a sort of trapunto under the area where I’d quilted through both.   It happened to be tree trunks so a little extra thickness won’t hurt. I even salvaged enough of the underneath one to add to the side (not yet attached). After finishing the quilting (all free-motion) it looks like this (the black thing in the corner is a strap on my camera):

  Can you see the Cat Cough-up Hairball quilting on the lighter triangles? I love this filler! So quick, so easy.

Two other little projects (under 9×12 inches so I can donate them to AAQI) are waiting for binding. Spirals II is not entirely free-motion, the zig-zag portion is one of the stretch stitches on my machine. The white areas are free-motion as is the stitching on the appliqued (raw edge fused) spirals.

And this one, with the light triangle confetti, reminded me of cabbage moths so I added cabbages. They’re a little small, but all I could find in my stash. The spirals are free-motion quilted while the vertical texture is a decorative stitch.

I also did more walking foot work on a quilt I covered last week, which I was calling Quilter’s Nightmare until I realized, while quilting it, that it was my Muse! So I now call it A Quilter’s Muse, and will hang it in my studio when done.

 February 1, 2013  Posted by at 7:59 pm Free Motion Quilt-Along, Weekly Review No Responses »