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 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 »
Jan 252013

I’ve been quilting! First I finished Spawn with the walking foot. It’s not bound yet, that will wait until a few other projects are quilted. I used a variegated blue thread (Superior’s Rainbow, which neither of my machines liked), although a lot of the blue that shows in the pic (or maybe it doesn’t show) is from the blue chalk I marked the lines with.  

And today, before breakfast, I quilted this quick little quilt – I love a fast project! Yep, all quilted in just over an hour, a record for me. It helps to choose a simple, fast design. And it helps to have a small project – only 25×32 inches. Don’t look too close – my speed shows up in the stitch length. Oh well, you can’t be fast AND perfect.


I am currently quilting Quilter’s Nightmare; did some straight line stitching around the creature, then free-motion quilted the creature itself. I wanted to get that part done before the quilt gets too stiff to reach the center readily. I used Hairball quilting in the body with a multi-color thread. I have more straight-line stitching planned, then more free-motion on the edges.


Also started the green and pink thing (which doesn’t have a working name) which is basted and stay-stitched. I did McTavishing (as demo’d by Leah Day) on one section of pink background. It works, but I decided I don’t like it well enough to do the other sections.

And I took advantage of a narrow window of good lighting and took some pics of older finished quilts. I’ll stick those up on flickr at some point. Not yet done – my year-end inventory.

 January 25, 2013  Posted by at 7:45 pm Quilting, Weekly Review No Responses »
Jan 192013

This is my second progress report for 2013, and the last one was Jan. 8th, so I can’t call it Week 2. Not so much done this time. About 2 days after the last progress report, my husband took a bad fall out in the workshop and injured his ankle. I’ve been playing nurse and doing his chores on top of mine ever since, which has cut severely into my sewing time.

Here are a few of the projects I have managed to work on:

Scrappy blocks, which I wrote about here. I have quilted in the ditch around the center portion on each one. Next up is to change machines and stitch around the outer edge. That’s partly to stabilize the sandwich and partly to see if the other machine still breaks the thread when straight-stitching with poly thread. Cotton thread in free-motion mode did not work well, but I wanted to do a little more testing before giving up on the machine.

Several AAQI quilts. One is all quilted, and I’m thinking of adding a little applique on top. The other two still await basting. I sewed up some green HST units hanging around on my sewing table, and when I ironed them they looked like trees. So I made trees and simple pieced landscapes.  And I’ve got one more little top I haven’t taken a pic of yet, it needs something more but inspiration has not struck.

I wanted to empty and refill the dark green bobbin before I tackled the quilting on the first AAQI piece above, looked around for some scraps to sew up or something, and grabbed three leftover little blocks and some green strips. Sewed the green strips on, still had bobbin thread. Well, let’s see, I could add a yellow frame, I can use dark green thread for that if I’m sewing onto the green. Finished that and still had bobbin thread. Okay, fine, more green, but maybe a light one this time.

Last seam, the bobbin finally gave out an inch from the end. I set the blocks aside and quilted the AAQI piece, but then my machine was sitting there with green thread, and the blocks were calling out to me to finish them. They wanted some pink, just a little bit. I succumbed to the siren song and added the pink.  Then more dark green (I still had that green thread on the machine, an old spool I wanted to use up). Now they looked done, and looked even better together:
I still couldn’t let it go. Four pieces of background and I could have this thing together so fast … I gotta do it. And I couldn’t resist the eye-popping pink polkadot. I don’t really like pink, and I’ve never cared for polkadots, but it sure sets off the blocks in this little piece. Now I need to dig out something for the backing.

And I’m doing another Improvi-Robin from Venus de Hilo. Here’s what I’m sending – found it when digging for some black fabric for Xmas gifts. Leftover shoo-fly blocks from a quilt I made a long time back, I’m guessing 1997, from an online swap. I’m not sure why I picked that swap, I had to go out and buy the fabrics as I had no solids in my stash. Uncharacteristically, I finished the top within a year of getting the blocks back, but then it sat. And sat. And sat. I finally had a longarm quilter quilt the thing about 5 years ago, and it’s done. These leftovers aren’t done, and I had no plan for them.  Then a brainstorm – Improvi-Robin! This will be a great challenge for the other Robiners to get creative. When I went to make the label I grabbed one I’d found on the floor recently when I was cleaning up, which I’d written in 1997 for some swap or other and hadn’t used. I added on to it, providing space for the other players to add their name.

Now I’m feeling the need to get back to doing some actual quilting, in between bouts of organizing my sewing room. I should take some before pics for that project too.

 January 19, 2013  Posted by at 4:57 pm Improvi-Robin, Weekly Review 1 Response »
Jan 092013

Lots of progress this week! I finished two quilts. One I bragged about yesterday, the other is Big Lattice, aka twin-monster, so named while struggling to quilt it. But I did get it quilted, and Tuesday morning I finished getting the binding on. Here’s a quick snapshot to prove it’s bound, a full picture will await either enough clear weather to clean off the deck railing, or better photo bulbs. After looking at the forecast, I’d better go order the bulbs.

I also threw some scraps together to start what I hope will become donations for the Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative. The green HST units were sitting around in a baggie, and I needed a betweener that could take green thread, so I sewed them together. When I ironed them, they looked like trees (one-sided trees, to be sure, but still trees, in a sunlit forest no less). I think these will make two AAQI quilts, with three trees each.

I had to trim the other green one after carefully calculating the layout based on a finished size of 9X12 inches (the maximum for AAQI), while forgetting the outer seam allowance ends up inside the binding. I had calculated based on the finished size of the squares I cut, so my allegedly 9X12 plan ended up 9 3/8 by 12 3/8 (would have been 1/2 with a binding). After some thought, I trimmed it down (photo taken before trimming). You might be wondering why I ended up with 3/8 instead of 1/2 – unless you do it too. Simple, my scant 1/4 inch seam isn’t scant enough. Not that I care.

What else did I do? (One week and I have to consult my journal to remember what I did, is that pitiful or what?)

Okay, I also added framing strips around some random scrap blocks. Ran out of the dark solid fuchsia so I grabbed a coordinating print, then decided they’d look better with at least two sides of the print. I’m not sure they do, but this is destined to be a charity quilt, so it’s good enough. Otherwise I might start adding some blue strips, then some – who knows? I never do.

And I made this little wallhanging, which is ready to quilt, to use up some scraps that were lying around. I pieced together the corners leftover from cutting circles out of squares with pink strips leftover from another project, then found the little stack of split squares when cleaning off a shelf to move it. That stack, and a few other odd tidbits, ended up on my sewing table, so now I’ve either got to turn them into WIPs or toss them all into a box and turn them into UFOs. I’ve got enough of the latter, thank you.

 January 9, 2013  Posted by at 6:43 am Weekly Review No Responses »