Apr 012013

Wow, end of the First Quarter already, how did that happen?

I’ve managed five finishes (#1 through #5) of my intended seven for the Finish Along over at shecanquilt. Two I already blogged about here and here.

The other three are:

Split Bits – 25 X 32 inches. Finished March 22.

Spawn – formerly referred to as Stepchild. 20 X 24 inches. Finished March 22.

A Quilter’s Muse – formerly Quilter’s Nightmare. 33 X 43. Finished March 22.

Yep, all three on the same day – I went on a binding binge. I worked on a lot of other quilts during the last three months but only a little bit on #6 and none on #7 on my list. I’ll have a nice long list for the next quarter, but maybe not as much time to sew.

 April 1, 2013  Posted by at 4:53 pm Finishing 1 Response »
Mar 212013

I had so much fun throwing together the first couple of clutter quilts I had to keep going. This time I reached for some old UFOs. These really were objects, not quite full projects.

First up was a set of four blocks with a cat print in the center of the block.

I made these so long ago they are almost vintage, at least under Etsy’s definition (20 years old). And my stash was a lot smaller than it is today, which partly explains the boring choice of color. I had set them aside when I could not figure out what to do next. I took the easy route – a few rounds of wide strips and I had blocks big enough for a lap quilt. This one took me one afternoon, at most.

Okay, I admit, not the most exciting of quilts, but I sure was excited to finally put those old blocks to use! The next set I grabbed was a double handful of mini-courthouse steps I’d made from lots of skinny scraps. 

You’ll notice they are courthouse steps in construction, not shading. I set them aside over 10 years ago when I ran short of strips, and there they sat. I added a little more red to complete the last round (shown), then added wider rows (light, dark, light) and used 9 of the 10 blocks for another lap quilt. This one may need a border to reach the desired size, but I’m quilting it first.

Next up was a basket block I’d never done anything with.

I had fused the flowers (cut from prints), then wasn’t sure what to do next so I set it aside. (Noticing a trend here?) I pulled out the invisible thread and did a tiny zig-zag around all the fused flowers, as I am not confident of the fusible’s reliability. Then I added borders, having a little fun with wonky trimming. This one is destined to be a wallhanging. I could make it lap quilt size, but I don’t trust the invisible thread to stand up to actual use, especially washing. Can’t wait to get this one done, it’s been in my “waiting for attention” bin for way too long.

 March 21, 2013  Posted by at 3:16 pm In Drydock No Responses »
Mar 072013

Okay, I admit they are small. No way would I finish three bed-size quilts in two days even if all they needed was binding. Which is what all three of these needed, plus labels. I finished two small art pieces for AAQI, and if I’m on the ball I’ll get them mailed out tomorrow. The other is for me, still needs a custom label but it’s hanging on the wall in my office until I get around to it.

The first AAQI quilt was a test of an idea for using up triangle scraps, in this case some very small scraps. As I quilted it, (trying out the potential texture of one of the few fancy stitches my old machine has) the little white triangles reminded me of cabbage moths. So I found a fabric with cabbages on it and cut them out and appliqued them on. I’d have liked them bigger but that’s what I could find in my stash. They’re fused, then free-motion stitched around the edges.





The second AAQI quilt used some strips leftover from cutting the pieces for the cabbage moth piece. I added some scrap almost-white (it looks white in the pics but is a very pale Fossil Fern print), but the end result was pretty boring. What to do? Add more. Spirals are fun to cut out. Fuse down and free-motion stitch around the edges, and it’s done. Rather, it’s done now, after adding a binding.

I used quick triangles to serve as a sleeve and added the label the same way, so once bound they were done, but of course I didn’t bother to take a picture of that part.




The third finish was a quilt I’ve been working on for myself for about a year. Off and on, of course. I kept it in my office and hand quilted it in small bits while watching videos online in the evenings, something I do occasionally. I could have finished it off a lot faster quilting it on the machine, but wanted to put more of myself into it. The words are from an exercise in The Artist’s Way, which I worked my way through last winter. Now that it’s done and hung, I need to dig out another hand-work project.





One more bound today needs a sleeve and label, two more waiting for binding, then on to basting a growing pile of tops and back to quilting. I’d like to get a few more quilts finished this month, before garden fever gets me.

 March 7, 2013  Posted by at 11:12 am Charity Quilts, Finishing 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 »
Jan 152013

I probably should have called this weekly series something other than “of the Week” because I’ve already proven I can’t get my posts out on a weekly schedule. I’ll keep trying, I’ve got plenty more UFOs to write about!

One of my younger UFOs, this one is only 11 months old. But it did get put aside in favor of other projects, which is all it takes to become an UnFinished Object around here. My usual definition is if it goes in a bin, it’s a UFO. If it stays out on my sewing table or on the design wall it’s still a WIP even if I’m working on something else. The grey area is items that get tucked here and there without making it into a bin. And scraps are not UFOs until sewn together and then set aside, like this set. In February of last year they looked like this: 

I started by sewing scraps together, whatever fit. As the chunks got bigger I started aiming for rectangular shapes, and when I ran out of scraps I trimmed them all up with 90º corners. I should note that I wasn’t truly out of scraps. No quilter is ever out of scraps. Just working with scraps generates more scraps. But I’d used up the ones I could readily get my hands on and was ready to work on another project.

Last week I pulled them out, after a little bit of a search during which I found two other sets of scrap blocks, and added the dark framing strips. In true improv style, I cut a bunch of strips without calculating whether I had enough fabric, although I knew I might not and kept my strips narrow so I’d get more of them from my piece of fabric. They ranged from 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch.

Then I dove in and sewed on strips until I ran out of fabric. At that point I went in search of another fabric, and choose the same color but lighter and in a print. I decided one side lighter might look funny so I added an extra strip. Each block has 3 dark strips and 2 lighter strips framing the scrappy part. (Try not to drop that S when writing about your scrappy projects!) In hindsight, I could have left them with framing on just three sides, but I’d had a complete frame in mind at the time. 

Next I switched to light fabrics for the background. If I were sewing the entire top together I would have used the lights as broad sashing but I plan to quilt this one with a quilt-as-you-go method. Cutting 4 1/2 inch wide strips from as many light tan/golds as I could find, I sewed them onto all four sides.

My blocks are now nice and big, of varying sizes ranging from about 14 to 18 inches. Next up is layer and quilt – good fodder to practice my FMQ skills on. I’m leaning toward feathers. 

 January 15, 2013  Posted by at 9:24 am UFO of the Week 1 Response »
Jan 082013

Off to a flying start, I’ve finished the first quilt of 2013 today. It’s been sitting there patiently waiting for a binding, and now it has one. Here it is, all done:

And here’s a closeup to show the binding, (compare to yesterday’s post):

I also washed it and laid it out to dry, as flat as I could get it, backside up:

While I’m showing off my finishes, I might as well show these two as well. I finished them last month, but didn’t get photos until yesterday. First is the horse quilt I worked on all last year (off and on), finally done. It now resides on our couch. (Sorry about the imperfect camera angle.)

And second is Squiggles, which I quilted while following along with Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project. The binding waited until I’d bound the horse quilt. It now hangs on the wall in our guest bathroom.

I haven’t been able to get really good photos lately, especially of the bigger quilts. My usual photo setup is to hang the quilts from the deck railing, but for the last several weeks it has looked more or less like this:

My only option is indoors. I have a couple of photo-lights but they have the wrong bulbs in them. When I went to order better (brighter) ones, they were out of stock. Such is life. Someday I will get good photos!

 January 8, 2013  Posted by at 9:23 am Finishing 2 Responses »
Jan 072013

Here’s my list of quilts I intend to finish in the first quarter of 2013 for the Finish-Along (see button in sidebar).

1) Split Bits – basted and ready to quilt. Small wall-hanging, 26X33 inches. The bits were pieced from the corners leftover from cutting circles. (The circles are still waiting for a project to belong to.)

2) SW2 (second of a pair of quilts with a SouthWest theme) – quilted and waiting for binding. About lap size, 47X 58 inches, although I plan to add a hanging sleeve and make it a larger wallhanging. This one and SW1 (still in the UFO bin) were my solution to a pile of blocks from a mystery quilt that did not turn out well. Making two quilts worked, all the blocks together did not work.

3) Quilter’s Nightmare – basted and ready for quilting. Wallhanging size, 34X46 inches. This one was fun. I started with random leftover bits and bobs that had WOW or TOT combined with color. As it grew, the creature appeared, a quilter’s nightmare. I added some needle and thread print fabric as I finished it.

4) Stepchild – working name for another scrap quilt done right after #3 – so I call it the stepchild of Quilter’s Nightmare. I started with blue scraps from trimming the ends of binding scraps I used on some Christmas gifts. Small wallhanging, 20X24 inches. Basted and ready for quilting.

5) Big Lattice – twin size, 74X88. I named it Big because I’ve got a couple more small lattice projects started, stashed away in a plastic bin until I can find time for them. Quilted and waiting for binding.

6) Scrap Blocks Set A – and yes, that means I have several more sets of scrap blocks. I sew scraps together when I need a piecing fix between quilting and binding, but am resisting starting a new project. Of course, the scrap blocks become a project sooner or later. This set is destined for a twin-size quilt, after enlarging and generous sashing. Shown is not the complete set of 24 blocks. Needs more piecing, then will quilt-as-you-go so I don’t have to wrestle with the whole thing in my sewing machine.

7) Fractured – currently 36X42 inches, this top needs some border work to become a crib-size quilt. I want to piece at least a little bit of border to add some more small triangles around it.

That’s enough. I hope to finish more than that in the next 3 months, but I’m not sure yet what I will work on next.

 January 7, 2013  Posted by at 6:27 am Finishing 1 Response »
Jan 062013

To start this new series, UFO of the Week, I’m picking the one I’ve been working on lately. Yep, it’s all quilted and waiting for binding.

I was inspired to make a lattice quilt after seeing a picture of one somewhere, probably flickr. It’s a simple concept – sashing with posts around print squares instead of pieced blocks. And I had some autumn-themed 6 inch squares hanging about begging to be used, so I jumped in. I didn’t pre-plan any of it, just decided what size sashing to use, cut a bunch of fabric, and started sewing.

After I had squares with sashing sewn to one side I put them up on my design wall and worked out a layout that used all my blocks.  I didn’t realize until I went to put the final rows together that I should have had one less diagonal row in the middle. Not a really big deal, but I did have to sew part of one seam, then several other seams, before coming back to finish the first seam.

The alternative would have been to trim the outside posts, as I did to the sashing in this QAYG quilt: but I wanted the sashing to float on the dark background. After all, the sashing is supposed to be the focal point in this style of quilt. It worked, but not as simply as I would have liked.

And the end result was a bit long for its width. As you can see in the top image above, I had to add a strip to each side before the outer border to make the quilt end up twin sized.

Speaking of twin, this one was a pain in the patootie to quilt. My 17 year-old Pfaff has a measly 7 inch throat and I used poly batting. I’d forgotten how lofty most poly batting is, I used to use one of the thin ones before I switched to cotton. It took a lot of squishing to get to the center of the quilt. I swear, from now on, anything bigger than crib is going to be quilted in sections, or rows or blocks, then put together.

Somewhere in a plastic shoebox reside a couple more (much smaller) lattice projects I started from the scraps from this one, hence the name for this one – Big Lattice.

 January 6, 2013  Posted by at 3:27 pm UFO of the Week 3 Responses »
Jan 042013

Now that 2013 is underway, it’s time for the “here’s what I plan to do this year” post. So – here’s what I plan to do this year –

1) Finish at least 24 quilts. I am ever optimistic about how much I can get done in a year, even though years are a lot shorter than they used to be. I managed to finish 12 quilts last year, on top of moving, selling the old house, establishing new gardens and orchard here, and generally a very busy year outside the quilt studio. So this year I should be able to finish twice as many, right? No problem (she says in January).

To help me along in the finish department I plan to do the 2013 Finish-Along, this year hosted by SheCanQuilt.  In fact, I’ve sat on a couple that are waiting for bindings in order to have them qualify as finishes for the Finish-Along.

2) Follow along with Leah Day’s Express Your Love quilt project (with lessons on filler quilting) except I’m going to do a Spirit Horse instead of a goddess. With a lovely flowing mane like the hair on Leah’s goddess, begging for lots of filler quilting. I haven’t actually drawn my horse yet, he’s still in my head. The same post linked above has some other things going on I plan to follow along with, like UFO Sundays.

3) Hoffman Challenge. I did this once before (nah, didn’t win), have toyed with doing it again but most years I don’t think about it until about 3 weeks before the deadline and that’s a little late to order the fabric and get a quilt made. This year I have already ordered it and have an idea how I want to use it. I did break my No New Fabric rule to get it though. Guess I’d better make sure I follow through on this one, make it worth the guilt. All other fabric for it will be from stash.

4) Another Improvi-Robin from Venus de Hilo. I had so much fun with the last one I have to do it again. And I already know what I’m sending for my starter piece – but it will remain a secret until it’s in the mail. Interested? Deadline for joining is Jan. 14.

5) Work entirely from stash. (Except for the 1/2 yard of Hoffman fabric for their challenge, that is.) I have plenty, more than I can comfortably store and organize. I’ve had it in my head to try and use up my ENTIRE stash before buying any new fabric. I decided to make this an aspiration rather than a goal or challenge, because I expect to end up with all darkish browns at some point. That might be more challenge than I want to deal with. Though it does have possibilities – hmmm – well, no rush, I’ve got years yet before I reach that point.

6) Overhaul this website. I want to add a lot more content. First up will be a regular “UFO of the Week” post, which will start as soon as I have a few posts written ahead so I can stay regular. Looks like I’m going to need a Week in Review post every week as well. More tutorials are planned, no promise on when they’ll get posted since they rely on photos, and I tend to get behind on editing. I also need a few piddly little things like a newsletter sign-up. And redo my banner which is a little bit too long. Boring stuff like that.

7) Last but greatest, what should be a big announcement but I’m still working out the details, my newest project – UFOs4Charity. I’m setting a personal goal to finish as many of my UFOs as are suitable, and donating them to charity. I will donate to any charity that accepts quilts, whether long-established like the Linus Project or short-term disaster relief like eQuilter’s Hurricane Sandy drive.  And I want to inspire all the rest of you to follow along and do the same. Those half-done projects buried in the bottom of plastic bins because you no longer like them? Someone else will love them if you only get them finished and shipped. I plan to provide helpful info on how to do that quickly and easily, so look for more about this soon.

Dec 152012

I’ve been madly quilting away for what seems like weeks, but probably hasn’t been. I have finished the quilting on the horse quilt I’ve been working on off and on all year, finally! Here’s a quick picture on the floor, I’ll take a better one after I get the binding on.

And a couple close-ups of the quilting. I did one big flower, inspired by Leah Day’s Quilt Along number 40. I made mine pointy at the ends of the petals, thinking I might want a place to pause from time to time. I also didn’t think through the first one well enough and made the petals too narrow. I had thought to place 5 or 6 of these on the quilt, but after the first one I said, enough. I did the rest with free-hand ferns. I don’t know how well it shows in the photo.

I also quilted Squiggles, as written about here. And started quilting this SouthWest themed lap-size quilt, and a twin-size quilt destined for charity. Both are UFOs, having been started then set aside and packed away. The SouthWest one is about 15 years old, the other only a couple years. They aren’t done yet, I’ve set them aside once again. It’s time to get a last few Christmas projects out of the way, not to mention bind the two that are all quilted.


 December 15, 2012  Posted by at 8:14 pm In Drydock No Responses »