Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crisis or Opportunity?

The crisis:  My favorite machine for piecing will not feed the fabric.  I know what the problem is but I have not figured out how to do that kind of deep cleaning myself, so my machine was delivered for a cleaning.  It will be out of operation for a week.  I do have a couple other machines, but this is the only one that fits in my sewing table.

The opportunity:  I have a number of tops that need to be quilted.  I quilted one and used one of the other machines to add the binding. (Not as easy as using my sewing table, but still did the job.)  Now I am going to sit and do the hand binding.   Should be able to deal with a few of these with a whole week to work this way.

I thing I like this kind of situation!  Of course, I would hate it if it went on forever.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What do you do with scraps that are too small?

Because I made a statement at one sew-in that I sew my "too small" scraps of fabric and batting into dog pillows that I donate to the humane society, I have received far too many bags of scraps from my quilting friends.  DO SEND MORE, MAKE YOUR OWN AND DONATE. (It feels good!)  Then this past week, I have been purging my studio and finding fabrics that are very old and not worthy of quilts or donation - not because they are too ugly, but because of what they are made of or because they really are very thin or too loosely woven.  So far this year, I have donated 10 dog beds and am getting ready to stuff and donate some more.  Upholstery and denim go into the covers.  Everything else goes inside: bits of batting, small scraps, leftover fleece, and rejected fabric donations that others do not want but can't seen ti just toss away, either.  The pillows need to be at least 18 x 18, but I have made a few that are 30 x 30 for a few big dogs. 

Update on backings for the HeartString quilts.  We now have 30 backs, but 54 kits.  Somehow, the needed backings will appear.  I have faith because these quilts serve a worth purpose.  I  will keep you posted.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Apparently there is still multiplying going on

I found a large number of strings for kids quilts when I opened one of my HeartStrings drawers.  I have spent a few hours with them and have bagged enough for 12 more kids' quilts.  Sure hope I can find people that want to take on the project.  As I said yesterday, I think that the HeartStrings Quilt Project is very worthwhile for the givers and each one of the receivers (who receive the quilts for many different reasons).  With all the kits created, we, the members of the guild and other willing people, do need to get the sewing machines up and running hot.

Why do I do the Quilts of Valor version of HeartStrings?  I make the quilts as a prayer for those who have served and sacrificed and also to honor those I love who have served or are still serving.  My husband is just finishing up 30 years of service in the Navy.  One of my brother-in-laws retired from the Air Force after 20 years, and my other brother-in-law has already served 16 years.  My nephew is serving in the Army.  My father and my father-in-law both served: one during WWII and the other in Korea.  My brother served in the National Guard.  Other family members have given of themselves in service to our country as well. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

What I learned today....Thoughts of Loaves and Fish

I have always known that the best laid plans of mice and men (and women) don't always go according to plan, but today I learned that this kitting project seems to have expanded beyond reason simply because my strips must multiply overnight.  The HeartStrings quilt project is something I feel is very worthwhile.  Another plus is that this type of sewing is great because everyone seems to be able to sew the strips, but there is that insidious side of strings in that unlike the loaves and fish in the Bible, the strips keep reproducing even after the lights are turned off and all the quilters have gone home.  I now have the red, white and blue strips sorted for Quilts of Valor (15), the category I refer to as other (18) and the kid quilts (12).  If you have been following this train of thought over the past few days, you will recall that I said I was making 33 kits.  Well as a former math teacher I can tell you that 15 + 18 + 12 = 45, and that is a LOT more than I thought we had in the way of strings.  Never mind the number of centers, foundation squares and binding we need ----Think about the number of yards need to make backings.  Fortunately, I have the batting already donated, so now I will have return to my stash and also plead with the guild members for about 160 yards of fabric.  (Actually, I think I have backs for about 10 of the quilts, so...)
I have one copy paper box and one large 50  gallon storage bin filled with yardage and strips cut from other projects and truly untouched at the moment.  (Those misbehaving strips in the charity closet better just stop multiplying for the time being unless they are multiplying in to real yardage!!!!)  Unless someone else comes in and hauls them home to work on in the next couple of months, they will be waiting until 2011 to get any attention from me. 
Like everyone else, I do have a life beyond HeartStrings.  I have Christmas gifts to finish, a couple of customer quilts coming my way and one that is going on the machine this weekend, and more quilts to create using my FIL's embroidery.  Also, I am the one that started the UFO Fun challenge in my guild, so I know I need to keep up the pace and get mine done - 3 down with 8 to go by May.  Each year I set several goals to challenge myself.  This year the goals include reading the full Bible, exercising at least 3x a week, and whittling my UFOs down to less than 10.  I am about 5/8 of the way through the Bible, which means I need to pick up the pace if I am going to meet my goal of reading all of it by December 31.  I also have several pleasure books that are screaming for me to sit down and read them.  Besides my water exercise at the YMCA, working out with the personal trainer has started (should have done this years ago) and I am starting to actually enjoy the exercise just for the sake of it --Not even thinking of being an average size yet, but I know I have muscles that have been way under used for decades.  =0)  (My sisters are wondering why I did not start sooner, as well.)

****Please note that I am blessed or cursed because I moved into an area where I was unable to find a middle school math teaching position.  I subbed one year, worked at a quilt shop for a short time, have done quilting for a number of people, and have been the one to help out when family members have been ill or in need of a grandma type.  I am making the best of it and am thrilled that my husband actually feels just fine with the arrangements.  Once we decide where we will live after the Navy, things will probably change, but I really do feel that this time has been a gift and a blessing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still Cutting and Kitting, BUT...

I have been doing what I promised myself I would do, but I decided to take a break of sorts and also kit up the UFO Christmas quilt with my FIL's redwork.  There are lots of 1 1/2" strips and 2 1/2" squares that will eventually surround either the redwork or some simple evergreens made with flying geese.  I am trying hard to stick to the patterns directions rather that do it my normal way.  Might just find a new technique that I like.  Once it is kitted, I will go back to the HeartStrings even if they take the rest of the week.

Making HeartString Kits

Do you have any idea about how long it takes to make 33 kits for HeartStrings Quilts of Valor or any other HeartStrings for that matter?  I do not know any exact amount of time, but I am now cutting the center strips, 10" foundation squares and backs.  If I have enough yardage, I also cut out pillow cases for the QOV.  I  worked on it  yesterday and again most of today, but the end is not really in sight, yet.  I am determined to get the clutter put away.  Over the last few weeks,  I had help with a lot of the cutting and sorting the strings for QOV, juvenile, and other categories.  Then the bagging of strips began yesterday morning.  Sharon and I bagged enough strips for 14 of the 33 kits we are currently  putting together.  (More strings are busy multiplying themselves in the closet.  Leaving the light on does not deter them one bit. LOL)

Since I have donated a lot of the fabric, my stash is starting to be a much more reasonable size.  However, foundation fabric was purchased again today (I buy it by the bolt.  Thank goodness for 50% off coupons.  =0)

Guild members and my FIL will sew these kits together. Then I will quilt them and get others to help with the binding.   I have a request for 20 QOV at the end of January so they are the priority.  We only need 10 more.  Whatever others are completed will be displayed at our quilt show in February and then donated to several different organizations in our area.

Love doing charity work, but I am going to try to spend some time this week on a few of my UFOs and a baby quilt.  Also have to make more time for the gym now that I have a trainer watching over me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Another Finish -- A Collaboration with My FIL

In May my FIL and I kept busy making string blocks. 
This is the first large one where he made most of the blocks and I did the rest.  I made the pillowcases to go with the quilt.  It should have been about two block lengths longer, but it is only going to be on the bed a month out of each year, so we will be creative.  There is so much to see, that I am certain that naptime will be much more interesting for everyone.

Where have I been?

Actually, I have been cutting strips, sewing, and hanging around the house with my FIL.  Started the week with the final pontoon boat ride of the season and took my husband to the airport.  Tuesday, I went to the doctor for a sinus infection and sore toe.  Later that day I went to the podiatrist  and had an ingrown toenail removed from the big toe that I broke in March.  It is healing nicely.  Amazing how much better my foot feels.  Missed deep water exercise, but I will be back in the pool on Monday and will also be starting with a personal trainer in the gym.
Originally, I was going to spend the weekend in my hometown, but as life would have it, plans changed.  My FIL left for home about 30 minutes ago, so I am going to spend the remainder of the weekend working on the longarm, doing laundry, going to church, and sorting files.  Sounds like fun, huh?  I lead such an exciting life!  No complaints, but when I put it in writing it sometimes sounds rather boring. 
Expect photos next time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Two More UFOs Finished!

The embroidered blocks are from
a Dakota Collectibles Collection
called Noah's Ark Babies
 I have finished two more of my UFOs so I only have 8 more on my list.  Binding is one of the things that I enjoy doing while we are driving from point A to point B.  We had about 8 hours of it this weekend, so I took both to do.  I finished just as we arrived back in town.  Of course, I did take a 2 hour nap one way.
The Noah's ark quilt is a collaboration with my FIL's embroidery and my pieces.  At one time I taught in a Catholic school and used the story of Noah as an overall theme for the year.  This will stay here and go into my Noah bedroom.
This baby quilt was a BOM from Sew Many Ideas
in Jackson, TN, designed by the shop owner.

When I lived in Tennessee a friend and I took this BOM class.  The owner designed hers with lots of embroidered bugs, but we decided to keep it simple.  We drove about 1 1/2 hours to Jackson, and after class went out to lunch and enjoyed an afternoon of goofing off.  When she asked me to quilt hers, all of us got a big surprise.  She came to the house but did not stop in the driveway.  She drove up into the side wall of my garage and then managed to reverse the car and careened down the hill just missing the neighbors gas meter.  Seems something stuck!  To me it sounded like a plane had hit the house.  She was fine, but her car was totalled!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One More UFO Underway

I quilted the baby quilt I made in Tennessee.  I tried something new.  Front looks fine, but I should have pulled a little more snugly on one side.  There is just a little bump, but I will know it forever.  lol  Binding is attached and just needs the hand stitching.  Making this list was really worthwhile.  By the time we move again, I should have my stash and UFOs under control.

Redwork Wallhanging

This wall hanging is a simple design that showcases the redwork designs my FIL made using Redwork 1 by Betty Alderman for OESD.  Once again, I wish I was a better photographer because this red blender fabric is just right to enhance the designs. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Aother Table Runner

Used Floating Star Charmer pattern from Creek Side
Stitches and embroidered work from OESD's
Feathered Beauties by Bonnie Shrapshire
Each of the three blocks
measure approximately 14".

I am making 3 of these table runners using the same fabrics and other embroidered foliage work from the Feathered Beauties software.  I love the pattern and the fact that there really is no way to cut off the points on the stars.  Don't they look sharp?  I do not think the photos give you a true idea of the colors, but trust me, they are wonderful.
I should have quilted Elaine's quilt on Monday, but the muscle in my back has other ideas about pushing the HQ back and forth.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be the day.  It is loaded and ready, so I just need to give the muscle a little more time.
I also pieced and quilted a redwork hanging that is listed on my UFO list.  I plan to sit and quietly bind it tonight.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fun Idea Originally Created by a 13 year-old

One of my friends sent me an idea for us to use as a guild activity.  I took what the article offered and did it my way with some leftovers.  The  The original idea came from Olivia Jarvis, a 13 year-old.  The article cam from American Patchwork and Quilting, Dec., 2010.    She calls them Liv's Luv Buddies.  We are thinking of making these pillowcase style dolls  to pass on with pillowcases we will be making during our quilt show.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lots of Work Done, BUT Not a Thing for Show and Tell Today

I cleaned up all the loose threads on the Noah quilt and have bound about 15", but there is nothing to show, yet.  Would have accomplished more but took time to talk to a friend and take care of a few other tasks tonight.
During the day, after swimming, I also made 3 more wheelchair tops, but I will wait until I quilt and bind them to show.  If you want to know what they look like see yesterday's post.  Based on all the info I have gathered, wheelchair quilts should be no bigger than 36x45.  The two tops I made with 6" squares required 63 blocks.  The two I made with 5" squares required 80 blocks.  Discovered that the one inch larger blocks were actually less manageable because there are so many different types of fabric, but there are only a few places where the corners did not match exactly. (Some of these fabrics do not lend themselves well to having their seams ripped.)  Once quilted and washed, I don't think anyone will actually see the few corners that are a scant 1/8" off.  I will know, but I can live with it.  These are comfy quilts that wash up nicely and have lots of textures because of the varieties of fabrics.  They will be a sense of calm to those that touch them.
Also went through the stash to find greens and browns to use in a few more table runners that will feature my FIL's embroidery pieces.  I am looking forward to cutting into the fabric tomorrow after I quilt Elaine's lap size quilt.
I am smiling and enjoying the fact that I have time for quilting pleasures!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Report

wheelchair quilt made of shirting samples

Noah's Ark quilt with a herringbone stitch instead of using stitch in the ditch
 I started the morning with a little cutting and then headed out to church.  When I came home I quilted my first UFO using an odd stitch.  I had not quilted the Noah's Ark because I did not like the stark contrast of the white against the blue batik.  Although it is not really an original layout, I really do like the animal blocks embroidered by my FIL.  The blue and white batik looks a little  like water.The herringbone stitch seems to have softened the edges.  Now all I have to do is do the hand sewing on the binding.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guild UFO Fun

We are going to challenge each other to complete some of our unfinished fabric objects, otherwise known as UFO.  You can choose as many or as few as you want, but you have to put into writing how many you are going to attempt to finish by the May meeting.  For each one that you list you have to put a fat quarter of fabric into the pot.  There are other rules, but lets just say I am going to admit to 11 UFOs.  Some just need to be quilted and bound, so they should be fairly simple projects, but there is one in that category that I am a little anxious about tackling because of all the embroidered parts.  Are there others in my head or in my stash?  I will admit to the ones in my head, but the others are my secret.  There are a couple of WIPs (Works In Progress), but since I have not laid them aside, I am not going to count them.  Guess I will have plenty to do in the next 7 months.  Should not have to spend much money on fabric or thread, either because I have everything to make the ones listed.

Just quilting and binding(couple are going to be donated):
  1. Frog Favorite from 2007
  2. Beginner lap quilt from Frog group 2007
  3. Noah's Ark lap quilt from 2009
  4. Baby quilt made while living in TN 2008
  5. Four Seasons quilt with lots of embroidering 2009
Have started but kind of dropped it out of my rotations:
  1. Christmas redwork 2009
  2. Flower redwork 2010
  3. Jamie and my buck a block quilt 2009
  4. Fat Quarter Sampler 2009
Have ALL the material but have not sewn a stitch:
  1. Christmas Nativity quilt by Nancy Halverson 2008
  2. Batik quilt using an Aardvark pattern 2009
After reading my list, I know some of you are wondering when there will be enough time, but I have my own quilting business and business has been very slow, so I am guessing that I am up for the challenge.  At the moment, I only have two quilts to quilt and one is mounted ready to go.  I will also continue to do charity quilting one day a week, but I have learned to let others do the binding on these.  Kevin's retirement quilt is coming along fine, and I just have a few borders, quilting and a little binding left for a couple of others. 

Life is good!  No complaints!