Apr 122013

Time to list my second quarter intended finishes for the Finish-Along. I’ve got a list of 10 here, plus a couple not yet started that I want to get done in the same time-frame. Unfortunately, I will have even less time to sew than I did for the first quarter, so I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I never know ahead of time which ones I will or won’t finish.

1. Vertical strips charity quilt. This one is a simple QAYG method that is both tedious and boring. I thought it would be fast, but I’m not convinced it is fast enough to be worth the tedium. But, I want it done and out of here! It is about a third done.
2. An entry for the Twenty contest. All assembled, needs some quilting and binding etc.
3. Ugly 4-patch squares. I took some really ugly 4-patches (made by someone else) and added frames to make wonky blocks. I plan to quilt these QAYG style, they still need layering and basting.
4. Scrap-centered blocks for a QAYG style quilt, these are basted and have started quilting, lots more to do.
5. Kaleidoscope quilt, wallhanging. Basted and I started quilting. Again, lots more quilting to do.
6. Basket quilt, wallhanging. About a quarter quilted.
7. “Corral,” wallhanging. Started quilting.
8. Pink and green thing. About a third quilted.
9. Quilt for our guest bed. Top is in diagonal rows so I can quilt it row by row, starting in the center and adding rows as I go. I have not started quilting yet.
10. Almost forgot another charity quilt (lap size). I thought I would have it done by now so didn’t put it on my initial list, but it isn’t done. It needs a bit of border to reach the desired size, which will need quilting, and it needs binding.

You may notice a lot of “started quilting” in this list. Some have just enough to stabilize the piece, others have a little bit more done. It depended on what designs I wanted to try out before turning to the next project.

 April 12, 2013  Posted by at 9:03 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 232013

Okay crew, listen up! It’s time for the great announcement! I’ve alluded to this a couple times, but this is the formal (or not so formal) Launch. Officially called the UFOs4Charity Project, you could also call it a Clutter to Quilt project. It’s all about turning your sewing room clutter, most especially those languishing UFOs, into finished quilts for charity – any charity.

You can read all about the project here, and those quilts I told you I was working on here and here? Yep, they are my current batch, I’m quilting them now. I’ve set a goal of 100 charity quilts made from UFOs, leftovers, orphan blocks and the like – all the clutter in my sewing room. I’ve finished 12 since I set the goal, so I’ve got aways to go. Plenty of time for you to make even more – go ahead, show off. Make me look like a loser. I’ll go cry in my scrap basket.

 March 23, 2013  Posted by at 5:42 pm Uncategorized 1 Response »
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 »
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.

Oct 122012

Another week and I am still working on the horse quilt. I am determined to get this one done, but have had little time in my sewing room. Next week might be better, lots of rain in the forecast. That means less time in the garden and more time indoors.

I managed to get the lower segment sewn on, and now I am not happy with the result. There’s a huge empty space of background between the two lower left horse blocks and the rest of the quilt. I have a lower right corner that begs for one more horse block (I do have one more horse I can use), and the entire thing is longer than I wanted.

This project is intended to be a cuddle quilt for our couch, it doesn’t need to be 7 feet long! So I am seriously considering shortening the thing. I think one horse block, tucked into the empty area, will be enough. It’s going to take some cutting and new strips added, but this quilt is for me, and I want to be happy with the result. Though I’m sure it will be just as cuddly either way.

 October 12, 2012  Posted by at 9:05 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
May 292012

Actually, it happened in the clear light of day.

I responded to an ad on Craigslist for a bulk lot of fabric for $400, worth at least $1000. I had reservations whether it would indeed be worth spending $400 on, but went to look. OMG, there were so many bins and piles I didn’t think I’d fit it all in my car. I poked through it briefly, enough to see it wasn’t all brown country prints or calicoes.

Somehow we crammed it all in my Jeep Cherokee, loaded right to the ceiling. I kept my fingers crossed all the way home that I wouldn’t get pulled over for obscured vision (although I had kept enough space clear to see the passenger side rearview mirror). I didn’t, and the load and I arrived home safe.



Looking at the pile on the floor, now that I’ve sorted out the kits and batting from the fabric, and comparing it to my existing stash, I think I tripled it. And it all needs washing. Gulp. Actually, my plan is to sort through it (as I have time), and choose what I want to keep. That will need washing.

The rest I will sell or give away. It would be kinda nice to sell enough to get back what I paid – then the rest will be free! I like free, don’t you? Hey, maybe I’ll give some away on this blog. There are also kits and patterns. I’ll sell the kits and give the patterns away here. I think I’ll wait until winter though, and see if I can scare up a few more readers first. Sort of spread the wealth around a little.

And, in keeping with this blog’s theme – I found 4 or 5 UFOs in there too. I’m not sure yet what I will do with those.

You may be wondering why this huge pile of fabric was for sale so cheap? Well, the quilter was getting older and her sons were moving her into an apartment and out of her house. She had already taken her sewing supplies and as much fabric as she could cram in, and sold some, and her sons needed to get rid of the rest. They wanted it out right then, before the estate auction crew arrived that afternoon.

So that’s what happens to your stash when you get old or die. Your family sells it off for pennies on the dollar. I feel a little sorry for the quilter, but her sons were grateful I came along. I didn’t dicker over the price.



 May 29, 2012  Posted by at 8:17 am Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 192012

Maybe I should re-title this post sewing progress, as I have not done any actual quilting. I should be, I have three tops basted and ready, but got sidetracked.

I completed Round 2 of the Improvi-Robin, creating this:

I had a blast doing this one – slightly wonky log cabin blocks casually set in a pale tan that matched the pale tan in the Round 1 portion (the darker rectangular area). I love how the light background makes everything float, totally changing the look. Hard to believe this quilt started with this.

When that was done I put more strips around the horse blocks:

The picture shows my layout, but I stalled here. I need more strips, and I’m out of scraps. I pulled fabric from my stash but haven’t cut into it yet. Now I’ve taken the blocks off the design wall to make room for my latest project, which I will post about later because I haven’t taken any photos yet.

And I finally, after more years than I care to count, stitched a sleeve onto the back of this small wallhanging:

It started with a leftover block from the one quilt my grandmother made (actually, she only made the top). My mom removed the original flowers to use them to replace some worn-out ones on the full quilt. Then she gave me the block, which consisted of muslin square with four clusters of leaves. Some of the leaf tips hung off the edge of the square, and a few more were in the seam allowance.

So I carefully unstitched some of the applique, added a border, and stitched the leaves back down. Then a fellow quilter gave me the vintage GFG units. They are made from feedsacks, and too irregular to stitch together (maybe why they never made it into a quilt back when they were made), but perfect for applique.

I hand quilted it, but never did that last bit of attaching a sleeve. Until now. It proudly hangs on my office wall, cheering the place up.

 March 19, 2012  Posted by at 2:34 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Mar 122012

I’ve failed to keep up with the two quilt-alongs because – well, nothing major. I set my new-to-me Juki up for machine quilting, put my favorite cotton thread in it, and started on a practice piece. The thread kept breaking. Last time I had trouble with thread breakage, a worn foot was the culprit. After watching to see where the thread appeared to be rubbing and fraying, I peered really close at the throat plate (with a little help from my husband’s reading glasses – I couldn’t find my little magnifying glass) and it looked worn along the edges.

Then I priced new throat plates and decided maybe I should try a bigger needle first. I haven’t done that yet. Instead I moved the Juki to a different table and set the Pfaff (my preferred piecing machine) back up. But I haven’t managed to figure out how to jury-rig the Juki’s temporary table for an extended flat surface to free-motion quilt on, so I’ve been piecing instead.

I decided to ignore all the pending basted quilts and work on a snuggle quilt using these blocks I started 10-15 years ago. The center horses are cut from my childhood bedspread, which my mother made for me. I’ve been sewing strips on in a roughly wonky log-cabin style, using up scraps so far, though I’m running short.

Yesterday, as I was ironing the strips over, my iron gave a little phzzt noise that wasn’t a steam-fart, and released a little puff of smoke that smelled like burning plastic. I immediately thought “uh oh, my iron just died,” so I was not at all surprised when it cooled off and stopped steaming. I grabbed my reserve iron to finish ironing that set of strips, but it promptly reminded my why it has been my “dry only” iron. On steam it hisses and spits like it’s about to explode. I suspect an internal leak. What do you expect from Walmart anyway?

With no usable iron, I had to quit sewing for the day. Today we were at Costco and I bought another iron. They only offered one choice, and I’m not sure I like it, but it works, and that’s what counts.

 March 12, 2012  Posted by at 8:27 pm Uncategorized No Responses »
Feb 102012

The Free Motion Project’s quilt along is still stippling. Week 5’s lesson was stippling in a block. I chose this block from my orphan-block charity quilt, and stippled in the background of the block with variegated thread.

This quilt is now all quilted, so I will need to find another project to use for the next lessons. Week 6 is stippling in sashing, I’m thinking maybe that table runner I listed for the Finish-along will do for that one. But not until my new Juki gets here, which I bought to use for free-motion work. Any day now!

 February 10, 2012  Posted by at 8:33 pm Uncategorized 5 Responses »
Jan 282012

For the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge, January’s tutorial  was a leaf design. I did leaves on most of a layered fat quarter, until I got bored with the heart-shaped leaves.


I also tried out the leaf with spiral variation from Frances Moore’s blog (no pic taken), which was fun to do but the result did not inspire me. I played around until I came up with a leaf shape I liked, then basted one of my UFOs and had at it. I’m almost done with the main body, no idea yet what I will do for the border, maybe another’s month’s tutorial will have something?

 January 28, 2012  Posted by at 8:27 pm Uncategorized No Responses »