Think about this.....

...the only thing scarier then reaching out to the unknown is settling for that with which we are comfortable.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Uninterrupted

Today should be an uninterrupted day for quilting, sewing, and having studio fun. I thought yesterday was going to be this way, but we had to take the little kid to the doctor for an upper respiratory infection he brought back with him from college.

I had been on a quite a roll prior to having to leave, but then lost a lot of steam with our three-hour detour. I didn't even have the gumption to long-arm upon our return. However, and prior to heading into town, I was able to complete my 20 BOM 2012 Craftsy blocks. 

The next step is to individually quilt the blocks in a quilt-as-you-go format while quilting the already completed top on DW in unison. I know this sounds really pretty stupid doesn't it? Why would I recreate a quilt top so I can quilt it on both my little, as well as my big machine? And, there is a simple answer: Three actually. 

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Every class I have ever taken in the past, and am now currently taking, all have different advice to give when working with quilts: Pin this way. Sew that way. Press like this. Quilt like that. But they all, every single one, say the same thing as an overriding theme. You don't acquire mastery without practice, practice, practice.

I was also ambitious enough last night to dig out the little charity dinosaur quilt I did during the last sew-in. Katie brought me her left over dinosaur feet (from a quilt she made previously) and I am incorporating those into the back of the quilt. I have everything laid out this morning and hope to get those together sometime today.

My homework for next months Stitchers Garden class is completed. We are doing two blocks in January instead of the usual one we have done in prior months. 

The Kaleidoscope quilt is still on DW and has been since Christmas. I think I'll dig into him first this morning and work out from there. 

Mom loaded me up (again) this year with fabric as one of my Christmas gifts. I have yet to put those away because I have to straighten all my long yardages to fit in the new bunch. But I have a new inventory of black and whites to add to the library, which was not only greatly appreciated, but badly needed.

Monday, December 29, 2014

What to do?

My mom is an amazing woman. She listens, and I mean really listens to what it is people say. I plan to listen more like her in the coming new year, so that shall be my New Years resolution.

I'd like to think I listen pretty well already, but like anything, there is always room for improvement.

My passion is like listening. I think I quilt pretty well, but at some point a line is crossed between just doing it and really doing it well. With all the resources available to me with the holiday gift giving, my quilting should soar to a new level this upcoming year. I am so excited about seeing where it heads and how much I grow in the next 365 days or so.

I look back on 2014 and all we experienced both in our personal lives and professional alike. Jim has learned he's not 25 anymore and I've learned to not cut corners and take my time. Enjoy the ride!

A friend of mine recently said something to me that makes perfect sense in how I have approached my quilting (and life actually). She said, "I can't afford cheap," and I think this is true in so many facets of life. Cheap on time, cheap on professionalism, cheap on supplies, and just everything really.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Gifts

I love to give gifts. Especially a quilt. The expression on a person for the split second of recognition is priceless to me and while the novelty wears off quickly, I still have that special look embedded in my brain.

Very few people realize just how much time is spent creating a quilt. I know my recipients appreciate them and most will cherish and use them as intended so it is that one brief moment of facial surprise and appreciation why I do this every day.

Here are the three full-size quilts made this year for my father, my mother-in-law, and my mom.

Ann's Amish Stars

Pete's Amish Stars

Judy's Full Circle
I received some amazing gifts this year too. Classes, books, and supplies to continue in my long-arm adventures.

When DW turned 1 year old (at least the one year he has been in our house), he and I worked through 75 quilts. 75! Can you believe it?

What's more amazing is that I finally feel like I'm JUST getting the hang of this long-arming thing. It's harder then it looks and the instructors and other long armers out there aren't kidding when they say it just takes LOTS and LOTS of practice...like cursive writing.

I want to create some amazing things this year. Angela Walters said something like this in one of the three books I received: When the quilting is laid down on the top, it's an extension of the artistic power of what has already been created.

I continue through my 2014 Mystery Quilt from Bonnie Hunter and am still working on creating a second BOM from 2012 Craftsy so I can practice both my DSM quilting skills in a quilt-as-you-go method, as well as on DW with the same blocks.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Circular Attachment

If you ever have the ability to learn how to use this bad boy, do it! I'm sure there's some kind of YouTube video for your machine on how your particular attachment works on it.

If you don't have this attachment, find somebody you know who does and watch it work. It's truly an underutilized piece of equipment our sewing machines have the capability of using.

We had a long session yesterday during our Stitcher's Garden class where Kathy demonstrated how her Bernina attachment worked, and then we were let loose on our own machines. Unfortunately, Mike does not have this attachment. Fortunately, Laura does, and so I ended up taking her yesterday.

Kathy even showed how to use painters tape, a thumb tack, and an eraser to make your own circular attachment. It didn't work as well, but students were at least allowed to play with it during class if their machine did not have the attachment.

After watching the in-class demo and playing with Laura (who no longer stitches very well due to her overuse), I came home and found out Mike has the capability for facilitating one, but no attachment came with him. This is something I'll add to my wish list for future gift giving. It's an expensive part; around $50, but the project possibilities are endless with all the stitches both Mike and Laura have to offer on their respective machines.

Caleb is now home for the holiday's so maybe my Christmas spirit will start to pick up a bit. Packages are arriving daily from around the U.S. and there is a brisk chill in the air. We even see a snowflake or two floating down from the sky.

Tonight is our Guild Christmas party. It'll depend on how much Amish Star long arming I get done whether I attend or not. Sew-In is this weekend and I can't very well take DW along for the ride, so today will be spent mostly on my feet in front of him to get this very special Christmas present completed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another Amish Star Quilt

My third; a Christmas gift for my father and after this one, I don't think I want to see another.

While they are beautiful quilts, I feel like I'm nearing "production" mode in having to make so many.

I know, three doesn't sound like a lot, but truthfully, making one quilt, let alone three of the same kind, is a LOT of work!

From previously, all the quilt tops were already completed. I needed backing fabric for the MIL's and my fathers. The MIL's quilt is on its way to Traverse City where she lives while I'm completing the second one here. Thank goodness!

The backing finally arrived on Saturday, and after getting the rest of the Christmas decorations up, the tree purchased, brought home, set up and decorated on Sunday, I was able to get back in here yesterday to continue on.

The first border, row one, and the first sashing were completed before retiring from DW. How come the first border(s) always take so long? It seems like I should have accomplished more after six hours on the machine, but nope, that's all I completed.

After that many hours, I decided I needed to do something else. While long arming, I was pondering what it was I was going to do, and even after shutting the machine down, still didn't know, so I made two more string blocks until I could make up my mind.

I love Amy Gibson, and she has been so busy with her family to really do a whole lot out there in cyberspace. But because I loved doing the BOM from 2012 on Craftsy, and I still have the class in my cue, decided to recreate another quilt using different colors. I still have the retro 20's prints left that Andrew purchased for me three years ago, and decided I had enough of those to head in that direction.

And, I'm using the Leah Day class to work out how to quilt the piece once each block is done. The first 2012 BOM was set into my exchange blocks with the Scrap Squad girls, and I'll long arm that the same way I'm going to DSM the new blocks I'm making.

The new blocks will be done more like a quilt-as-you-go method. In a nutshell; the large quilt with the added blocks will be more loosely quilted so the bed quilt will be all snuggly. It's larger anyway since 9 more blocks were added to it. The new quilt will be quilted a little tighter since I'll only be working with 12 1/2" blocks and can practice my micro quilting on Mike. Yeah! Now I have something to do to keep my mind off the fact not all the family will be together this holiday season.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ouch

My quilt bit me. Yep. It actually drew blood, and this time it wasn't my clumsiness in handling a pin or needle. Well, maybe it was my clumsiness, but not intentionally.

Somehow, while long arming this thing, a pin got stuck between the layers. It let me know about this yesterday while trimming binding threads. It poked me repeatedly and the final poke drew blood. I rooted out the source only to discover one of the flower-headed pins I use to attach to DW's leaders became dislodged (somehow) and ended up inside the quilted layers.

Long story short; after rummaging around here for a set of pliers to remove said pin (the flower heads easily separate from the metal shaft...thank goodness) all was well after the minor quilt surgery.

Here is the final quilting and now I can say farewell to a piece I never really liked from the start.

Rounded Feather

Swirls

Fern Feather

Circular Feather

Corner Feather

Loops and Long Swirls

Partial Feathers, Long Swirls, and Fairy Swirls

The Final Pepperdish
I took it along to Guild and everybody seemed to like it. After having one of the girls hold it up at a distance it didn't seem too awful bad. I'm just glad it's over!

One to bigger and better things. Yeah!

Mystery Clue #3 is out and hallelujah, it's just simple strip piecing and block construction. 120 units all together so we'll be working on those today.

I have a small chevron quilt that I loaded onto DW yesterday just to do some more practice with. I love long-armer Angela Walters, and I luckily have one of her books in my possession; she is such an inspiration. I'm goofing around with as many of her motifs in her book within this little chevron quilt since it offers such versatility for play. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the quilt once it's finished, but we'll cross that road later I guess.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One

One thing accomplished yesterday. I was so into what it was I was doing that I never took lunch until way past 1:30. I couldn't believe what time it was when I looked at the clock.

Here's what a quilt looks like when it's all pinned and ready to get quilted on my sewing machine.

Pinning a quilt
You can see my chalk markings for the quilting, which is a wise thing to do prior to pinning the quilt.

And, then I changed my mind.

This quilt has a lot of bulky seams. Probably due to the curves and the method of construction, and I was concerned Mike would have trouble traversing said seams. I was also concerned about the size. As I was pinning I was having to shift the quilt quite a bit to get all the pins set in and this told me it was probably a little too big to put under Mike.

So, I unpinned.

And then I loaded it onto DW. I've been watching a number of videos on YouTube and Craftsy on free motion quilting and thought to myself, 'Hey, I need to practice. I don't really like this piece so it won't matter if I mess it up. Go for it.'

All of yesterday was school. Schooling in how to travel. Schooling in how to flip motifs in my head and then transfer to my hands. Schooling in how to fit motifs into tight (or loose) spots. Schooling in speed of quilting. Schooling in taking breaks and doodling designs before actually quilting them.

I took my time. I played. I LOVED it! And, the piece didn't turn out too awful bad. Maybe I'll even share it tonight with the Guild just to prove I got the dumb thing done and it's off my to-do list.

Oh wait, the binding. And it has to be washed. All the glue stick spots are pretty prevalent so I have to wash it before I can share it. It's still early. I should be able to make it if I get off my computer and actually do something. :-D

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ann's Amish Stars

Here it is! All completed! It turned out pretty good I think.

Ann's Amish Stars
Here is a close up of some of the quilting that went into it. I probably already showed this motif previously, but hey, I like it and it's my blog.

Quilted Swirls
Now what? Jim asked me that this morning why he was on his way to Ohio. DW looks naked without anything on him but I don't want to start anything too tedious since dad's Amish Star backing will be here in a few more days.

I keep staring at that dumb Pepperdish table topper sitting on the rack waiting patiently to have something done with it. I really, really, really want to quilt this on Mike (Temps new name since he's now actually staying with me instead of going back to Gall Sewing). However, I think the quilt is a little too big for me to wrestle around with on my sewing desk.

I spoke to Dale last week about the quilting plan the designer published and it seems pretty intense; and Dale wholeheartedly agreed it's over the top. Too much on too little of a "palette".

Okay, I just brought the top out again onto my pressing table and I think if I mark it as I go, and modify some of the quilting areas, and, and, and...

I can probably give this a go on Mike. I think I can, I think I can! What do I have to lose? The quilt police won't come in here and arrest me, right? If it turns out too poopy I won't put it into the quilt show in March, right? I'll just let the guild members give it a cursory glance and not let them look at the quilting if it turns out crappy. I'm going to go for it on Mike. I just wish I had some 505 to baste the layers because all this pin basting will take all morning.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Actually Love Mondays!

Doesn't that sound weird? I really do love Mondays. We spend the weekend running around doing errands, and this time of year brings holiday shopping to the list.

After Jim leaves for work in the afternoon, I just cozy down into my studio and get so much done. Maybe that's why we need weekends; to rejuvenate our batteries to become more productive for the week ahead.

The MIL's quilt is completely quilted! I don't have the binding on so no pic yet, but soon. The quilting ended up being more then I had originally anticipated but I think it looks marvelous. I hope the woman appreciates all the time put into this thing since it's been in the works, off and on, for the past three months.

The Unit 2's for our Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt are in progress. These units take a long time to make and it's my goal today to get those finished. It's another dreary day, so time to crank up some Christmas music, turn on the sewing machine, and warm up that rotary cutter. Let the sewing marathon begin!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Better Pic

People on the Quiltville thread in FB are including pics of their sewing room/studio pets. I did not include this pic, but the day after everybody posted theirs, this is where I snapped Lily snoozing while I was working away. She loves to be under the long arm.

My little studio friend

Here's a better pic of how the MIL's quilt is coming along. I'm doing it entirely free motion, thanks to Dale and her encouragement from Thursday night. I'm lucky to have such a talented quilter close by to tap into for information and enlightenment. She truly is such a humble artist and so willing to share anything she can to current/future quilters.

Quilting in the MIL's quilt
21 units for the second step in our MQ were done yesterday; only 79 more to go. I found a resource this morning (of course, after I cut up more fabric yesterday to complete said units) to make the second step even easier. Maybe next time I should wait a few days to see what others post to speed things along somewhat?

While I enjoy the process of making tops, sometimes just getting through a large amount of construction is the goal. Each unit for the second phase is a mystery on whether it will pair correctly, meet where it's supposed to and, moreover, whether it finishes at the correct size. They all seem to be off just a bit one way or another despite my construction being done the exact same way.

Off to the East Lansing Arts and Crafts show today with Jim and mom. Should find some good deals and maybe even some cool quilting-making ideas.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Projects

It's interesting how my days and weeks go. Some days are quiet and virtually project-free; not that I don't have projects to do, but rather the lack of resources to complete said projects.

Then there is now. All of a sudden, after Thursday night, I have a multitude of projects staring me in the face for the upcoming holiday; and even projects not holiday related. Like the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt I'm doing. It's not remotely holiday related but will have weekly homework to complete. Just released yesterday was 200 more blocks.

My Stitcher's Garden November block was delivered Thursday night and that has to be completed before too long. Once again, not holiday related at all.

I was handed a dinosaur-themed charity quilt to complete for the guild also on Thursday night. That one won't take long and it's a project I can work on in my leisure. Hurray!

What about the string quilt I do a block on each day (or at least try to anyway)?

Then we get to the holiday stuff. My MIL's top is now on DW and here's an idea of how it's being quilted.

Anns quilt motifs
The pic didn't turn out as good as the camera looked like it would, but feathers were put in both the black borders, e's and l's in what should have been a flange, but ended up turning out to be a slim border, and swirls in each of the star block rows. The weather today is really gloomy so my flash washed out the pic.

I'm having to do three thread changes throughout the quilt depending on which of the sections I'm working on, so that takes a little more time. And why is it that it takes so long to set the first border in? Must be a quilters rule or something?!

While Big Socks, Little Socks isn't for anybody in particular for the holidays, it turned out to be very holiday themed.

Big Socks, Little Socks
This quilt turned out nice and snuggly. I quilted it pretty loose so somebody could cozy up to it during the cold winter months. I had every intention to sell/give this one away, but I may have to rethink that.

Speaking of which...I somehow wonder why people don't understand just how much time really goes into a quilt; any quilt, no matter its size. Not only the physical aspect of putting a quilt together in each of the blocks that make up the quilt, but the time spent thinking about how to construct it from start to finish. It's not like we just up and decide to sew something just to sew. There is so much planning in color, block placement, construction tactics, etc. invested in each piece we make. Let's not even get into the quilting portion once the block construction is completed.

Today must be my day to ask questions I'm certain will not get answered any time soon...if ever, but ya gotta wonder how to share the information recipients should be educated in knowing? Yet another question.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Nearly Done

Big Socks, Little Socks is nearly completed. I only have to put the swirly circles in the last border and then I can take it off the frame. It took longer then I thought it would but after today, it should be history.

The debate still remains on whether to go ahead with the Pepperdish piece or to delve into my MIL's quilt. I know she won't be down state for a few more weeks yet, and I really want to see how the Pepperdish table topper will turn out once I get all those feathers into it.

Two more blocks completed on the string quilt yesterday and my string supply is actually becoming somewhat dented. I may have to pull from my 16-block pieces to get more.

Tomorrow is another clue in the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt. So excited!

I have to start thinking about how to put my Sugar Block BOM's together now that it has come to a close and my blocks are all completed.

I'd like to research some additional BOM's for 2015 since the Sugar Blocks will not be offered next year. Amy has decided to take a year off so I'm without a direction in that respect.

The weather looks like it should be cooperating today so maybe I'll actually be able to attend my guild meeting tonight. I think I've only been once since before I went out to Cali. Ugh!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Checking In

What have I done since Monday? Hmmm...what have I done?

Monday: Marathon day sewing HST's to 2 1/2" blocks to make all 100 units for the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt homework for this week.

Tuesday: Shopped for backing fabric for my MIL's Amish Star quilt. Finally found something and BTW...the Hen House rocks! Carolyn and Elise are wonderful hosts to all their customers and I will be frequenting there much more often in the future. Not to mention, their inventory of fabrics seems to increase exponentially with each visit.

Tuesday Night: After finally getting home from shopping with mom, worked on two string quilt blocks. I had attempted my Sugar Block BOM prior to leaving with mom and I ended up with three different block sizes in the nine patch block, so it was probably a good thing I walked away from it for a while.

While I was gone, Amy posted up the correct pattern on her blog and I last night ended up reassembling all four of the hard units (of course) to make a correct block. FB profile pic now updated.

DW has had this sock quilt on it too long, so we'll start there today. I really, really, really want to get my Judy Neimeyer quilt on the frame, but I know I have to get these Christmas presents done above all else. Hmmm, more questions. More decisions.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Uncomfortably Quiet

The family has all left and returned to their homes. The house is very quiet; uncomfortably so. While we don't sit and visit together 100% of the time, just having everybody here with all the noise and activity is such a warm-fuzzy type of time.

Jim returns back to work tomorrow and the quiet will become deafening. This is why Pandora is playing during the week to keep me company. Since we have now crossed into Christmas territory, I'll shift channels from Nora Jones Radio to Holiday music. Perhaps this will keep my sanity in check.

Today is Sunday and I don't have any small project in line for today. I vowed I was going to tackle the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt. While the family was here I was actually able to pull up the first clue and it requires 240 HST's! Instead of making them the way I usually do, I think I'm going to use a type of paper-pieced method I learned of from one of the other on-line participants. Katie uses this method also and it seems to yield a more accurate HST then the traditional way.

The color way Bonnie has selected for this year, however, isn't really my fav. I want to change it up and may only do a percentage of her given clue after checking out the block on my QuiltPro program. I'll fiddle with that this morning and see where the day takes me afterwards.

While my father was visiting, I asked if he actually wanted to watch DW do some work and see how it is I get him to drive the machine himself, or how I can drive the machine manually. He had a lot of questions and we actually spent some time in my studio during his visit; which is extremely unusual. Usually, people just casually breeze by the room and give it a cursory glance while heading to their bedroom or the bathrooms. My brother even spent some time in here with me later in the day and that made me feel like the family is finally catching on to what is currently so important in my life. Maybe?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shopping

I'm blogging late tonight because mom and I picked up the little kid at campus this morning and then the three of us went shopping, shopping, shopping. Man, can my mom shop!

I only purchased some Mono Poly thread by Superior Threads from Gall. This is so I can appliqué the pieces of the dreaded Pepperdish pieces down in place when the time gets nearer. The original pattern calls for turned-edge appliqué, but I'm not even going to go there. Tried it. Didn't like it. Will probably never go there again. It's fusible web all the way baby!

Since fusible has a tendency to release its hold after a period of time, and since this is a table topper, I'm thinking it will end up getting laundered quite frequently so I better adhere those flower petals down good.

After returning home, I made up for yesterday's neglect on my four (1) string quilt blocks and then made todays as well. I'm now back on track. Of course, I'm sure I'll get behind during the holiday weekend, but we have sew-in later in December in which I can catch up on the days I miss.

Most of yesterday was spent on Pepperdish. It's coming along, I suppose. I'm still not really sure about the colors. Mine will definitely turn out completely different then all the others in the guild, but I don't know if this will be in a good way. I'll just keep forging ahead to see what comes of it in the end. It's too late to turn back now.

While I was constructing the turning pieces of the pattern and then posting them on the design wall, noticed I had a real major goof. I only created eight pieces of the color I needed to create 12 of. I had to come to grips my quilt was going to turn out to be completely different then the intended design; and then walked away for a while.

When I came back, my brain must have engaged because I still had enough pattern pieces, template pieces, and more importantly, fabric to cut four more of the correct pieces I needed. Sure, I had already cut too many fabric pieces of the wrong color, but hey, I was back on track and then back to sewing I went.

And sew.

And sew.

I was in the studio until almost 9:30 and I actually started pretty early (for me anyway) yesterday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UFO's

Did I mention a while back about the Pepperdish class I took? The one where we learn the Judy Niemeyer technique of paper piecing while doing a large table topper project?

The class was in mid-October just before I headed out to Cali to see our new grandson. I hadn't even completed assembling the several small parts before leaving and found the need to drag this project back out again yesterday.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, I did do some work on DW and the Sock quilt, and I did do my four (1) string quilt block, but then after lunch, headed straight for the Pepperdish thing.

I say "thing" because what pieces I do have together, aren't fitting together so well. I'm already concerned about it and probably my reason for ignoring it since my return home.

It was time to push up the shirt sleeves and dig in to figure out where I left off, what I needed yet to do, and in what direction I needed to head to get this thing done.

The piece has a lot (and I mean a lot) of curved piecing. I recall the few that were done in the middle of the "thing" which didn't work out so well; and there seemed to be a lot of puckers in the assembly. Then, a lightbulb came on!

One of the classes I took on-line, instructed us to put the smallest piece on the bottom (which is contrary of what we want to do as piecers) before easing the curves together. After trying to piece two of the curves yesterday the "old" way (and again, having some pucker issues), I remembered this little tidbit of information and switched which piece was on top.

Ureka! No puckers are formed!

Yesterday I tackled the smaller curved piecing and today I'll be assembling the largest segments prior to piecing the larger curves together. The middle section, no matter how I arrange it on my design wall, still seems to be skewed at the outset, but maybe after getting it under my machine, it'll straighten out? Cross your fingers.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank-You Gifts

Isn't it great to have friends and family acquaintances who remember comments or wishes when they talk with you? We are truly lucky to have as many of those very people within our circle of life.

Larry and Julie remembered a comment mom made to them about our need for some rhubarb plants. They rehomed about 50 plants and wow, did they ever take off in the garden. They certainly didn't look like first year plants at the end of this growing year.

I like to thank those people who do this kind of stuff for us. Sometimes it takes me a while to get them something because I don't just go out and purchase a thank you trinket. I like to speak to those who are close to those people and get an idea of something useful to them and not just something as a "just something", ya know?

Larry and Julie have a small cabin they get away to and it's decorated in the traditional knotty pine and rustic type of items. We (mom and I) settled upon a nice moose table runner for them and so yesterday, this is what I created.

Table runner for Larry and Julie
Four (1) more string blocks were done yesterday, but no DW work. Too involved in this moose thing I think to fire him up.

I'll have to make it up to him today and get him out of his slumber.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Messenger Bag

Finally, a picture I can share because I actually completed something.

The inside of the bag
Notice the zippered pocket located inside my bag. I actually made a zipper! This is huge for me since sewing in the conventional sense, just isn't my usual cup of coffee.

Here is the completed exterior of the bag.
The finished Messenger Bag
The original pattern didn't have any shaping on the front flap, so I added one for a little femininity. It'll be a nice bag to shop with over the holiday season.

I started quilting on the Sock quilt yesterday. DW is doing most of the quilting on this one since it will probably be a sale quilt. I attempted to do some free motion something or another on it and it just wasn't working-at all! Unsewing ensued and consumed an hour of my evening.

Another string quilt block was completed last night to add to the three already done. I think the pattern calls for 120 blocks total (I make four at once for a large block, so in reality, I'll need to make 30 of them). If I continue on in my schedule with these, the blocks will be done in a month, right?

Everybody out there in electronic land seems to be in a state of excitement over Bonnie Hunters new mystery quilt, which starts next week. I think I've decided to not use her color scheme (pink, blue, green, yellow, and white) and am going with a more monochromatic scheme of my own.

I'm going to audition each weeks blocks with my QuiltPro program and stick to my studio colors. I should probably get out of my "studio" colors mode, but I have a lot of yellow, red, black, white, and grey in my stash, and frankly, being able to participate fully as all the other quilters out there are just isn't a possibility with Jim still being hurt and unable to work.

Since it's Sunday, and I like to work on small projects today, I'm going to be starting a table runner for a family friend who kindly gave us about 50 rhubarb plants this last spring. It's a thank-you gift to her and her husband who were kind enough to rehome the plants to us for Jim's edible pleasures.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Resources

I love the internet! I am in need of a bag/purse with a long handle for slinging over the many layers of winter clothing Michiganders have to wear this time of year. I don't usually take my purse in shopping with me but this need seems to be changing for me.

I want all my chapsticks, glasses cleaner, money, identification, coupons, etc. with me so when we are at a down time situation, I have something to do.

All my current winter bags have short handles. My favorite beaded jeans purse included. I could purchase a purse for my intended purposes but decided to research what was out there for patterns and ease of completeness for my taste.

I found just the ticket last night on line, and after loading the Socks quilt onto to DW and working on my four string quilt blocks, dug into a rather simple looking pattern for said intention.

I quit last night after getting to the zipper part. The pocket inside the messenger bag has a zipper and at about 9pm, thought I had better wait until I was a bit more rested and refreshed to tackle such a "real" sewing step.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Misc.

The three-year long string quilt has been completed! No pics (sticking to my rules) yet but once we locate a backing for it (non available in our current inventory), we'll get a pic up upon completion.

I have now started another string quilt project and this one is a bit more intricate, but uses those pesky strings I have been accumulating with every quilt made.

Mom's quilt is now off the long arm and the binding is fastened on one side. I'm going to hand-bind the rest of it since I know she'll take extra special care of it. Pics to come soon!

Once again, I ventured into the spare bedroom to match up a backing and a top. DW is empty and when Jim returned this morning from PT he mentioned DW looks too naked without anything on him. We choose the Socks quilt top and paired it with a neutral small rose themed backing. The backing is all measured out and I'll start getting this on this morning.

The sun is shining (finally) after four or five days of clouds and snow. It'll be nice to quilt in a sunny room for a change!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strings

I'm into my string quilts lately. I'm not sure there is a specific reason why I am other then the following:

1) I have more then enough resources to make them.
2) We are on a pretty tight budget since Jim's off of work and Christmas is what, five weeks away.
3) I love the scrappy look of them.
4) It's freeing to not have to follow some color scheme or match points precisely.
5) It's like a form of exercise since I add a piece, run over to the pressing table to press the seam, walk back to the sewing machine, lean over and find the next piece on the floor, straighten up in my chair to sew, and then sew. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

That's where I'm headed for now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let it Snow! Let me Sew!

I was able to head to sew-in on Sunday. The kids were still here, but I stole away for about six hours to "play" with my sewing friends. It felt good to get out and see some of the world beyond my four walls, and I actually caught the kids still here before they left, so it was okay.

I worked on my 3-year old string quilt and got the top pieced together. Once I got it home and pressed out all the seams, I decided it needed a border or two. I attached a stark white thin border around the top and then decided I needed to piece a piano key (or some other scrappy) border around that.

I thought about all of this yesterday and decided on a totally different route. The quilt top is fashioned in a diagonal manner rather then a horizontal/vertical block setting. Braiding the second border with even more strings came to mind and I researched how to do it. Yesterday, I completed two of the braids before quitting for the day, and while the results aren't as "wow" as I expected, it seems better then the vertical/horizontal piano keys would have been.

Today I need to long-arm at least for part of the day. Mom's quilt has been on DW long enough and will head in this direction to start.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Irony

It's irony that I complete The First Snow on the first day we get real snow accumulation in Michigan. About a 1/2 inch yesterday and another 1/2 inch over night.

I won't show you a pic of the quilt because I've already posted it about a thousand times already, and quite honestly, the quilting was very minimal because the houses needed to take the center stage.

With the snow comes the feeling of the holidays. I have three parent quilts to finish in six weeks. Thankfully, all the tops are done, so at least the hardest part is completed. Mom's is on the frame now and I still have to locate backings for dads and my MIL quilts.

Jim and I laid out all those string blocks I've been working on for what, two or three years now? It's on the design wall and after a bunch of scenarios, decided on a layout which would compliment the narrow as well as wide strings making up each of the blocks.

This was supposed to be sew-in weekend, and here I am at home. The weather keeps me in and quite honestly, I'm okay with this. I've pretty much geared up for the long winter and not really traveling to many places; I have material, thread, needles, and Pandora to keep me occupied. What could be better?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

And Another

I love long arming! Have I ever said that before? I really do love watching the quilt take shape under the hopping foot and how thread and design can change a nice quilt top into a beautifully finished piece.

This particular quilt didn't lend itself into my I-absolutely-love-this-quilt-how-am-I-going-to-part-with-it category; until I quilted it yesterday. Now I have a new love and want to keep it in the collection of quilts given permanent residency within our home.

Batik Blocks
I quilted it farther apart to give it some snuggle-y qualities. The pattern seemed rather fun and yet the batiks gave it a near serious quality. I wanted to bring out the playfulness and kindness of the quilt. It will make somebody (maybe even us) a nice couch quilt to keep warm on those icky, cold winter nights.

The kids are coming out this weekend (opening weekend of deer season) and this requires me to straighten out the spare bedroom. It's amazing how OCD I am about my studio space, but kind of explode in the third bedroom with quilt tops and backing fabric; and finished quilts.

The First Snow has been loaded onto DW in hopes of getting him done either today, or throughout the weekend between kid visits and sew-in activities, so this is one step in cleaning the spare bedroom adventures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Erratic!

Kitchen renovations take a LOT of time! Moving back into my kitchen was a pleasant chore for I found I had more storage then previously since space was added this go-around. Even though everything needed to be washed and/or dusted, it didn't take too awful long. But, it cuts into quilting time and for once it is actually okay.

I did manage to get some things completed in here despite my erratic visits.

The Craftsy 2012 BOM UFO top is finally done! Last night, late, I put the last of the three borders on. No pics though since I think I need to get back to my not-until-it's-completed rule. I'm finding I'm repeating a lot of tops/finished quilts here so we'll subscribe to my original rule when I started my blog.

The hanging windows quilt, however, is finished!

Hanging Windows
See all those feathers in the quilting? I actually free-motioned those myself. I still have some work to do with getting those down, but I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on the basic feather at least.

I'm still struggling with the formal feather, but I'm sure with more practice...

Today I'll be quilting the Blocky Batiks and should be able to finish it in a day. It's a nice large couch quilt and we'll have DW do an edge-to-edge design.

I have to figure out what I'm going to do for sew-in this weekend. I would really like to work on my Pepperdish quilt but it's so intense and I don't know if I would rather do something a bit more simple. I've been doing so many complicated pieces lately that simplicity seems the way to go.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthdays

My mom turned 70 yesterday. 70! Can you believe how the time goes even faster as we get older?

The weekend was spent loading one quilt onto DW and then "playing" with mom. No hexagons. No piecing. No quilting. But a lot of fun nonetheless and now I can get back into our kitchen and quilt-making groove.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Quilts and Kitchens

Our kitchen renovations are coming along well. I'm itching to get in there and start putting things away, but Jim has a plethora of other little tasks to complete and getting in the way would only lengthen completion. I'll just stay away until I don't hinder construction.

Because I don't want to be that third (or fifth) wheel, I have been here in my little girl-cave sewing away. The trees are complete and actually had enough time to get the main body of the quilt constructed last night.

Here's where I left off.

The First Snow "in rough"
I'm nervous about leaving the trees up for any length of time and feel like I better get those sewn together before I do anything else. There are nine different shapes and sizes of them and I feel like it would be a stress enhancer if I had to sort them all out later should they start peeling away from the design wall.

I have homework to do for my Stitchers Garden class next Wednesday, and there are still plenty of tops to get on DW with backing pieces we purchased for my birthday. It's a cool, gloomy, rainy day today; what could be a better thing to do then spend it in here?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trees, Trees, Trees.

The First Snow quilt is put together with a variety of houses constructed over a period of weeks and then sashed and bordered with various coniferous trees. 40 something of them in all. So much so it took three weeks of pattern posting to get all of them included.

The last posting occurred during my visit to California. Needless to say, I was able to get the paper-pieced pattern for the trees printed, but it seems the pattern is no longer available for construction. This means I'll have to figure it out from a Google Images pic instead.

I didn't realize how many actual trees there were because despite spending all of yesterday making trees, I'm still not finished. Perhaps today I'll be able to complete said greenery and move along in the project. I'm certainly glad I like to paper piece so well!


Monday, November 3, 2014

I Finally Was Able to Sew Today

After nearly two weeks, I was able to actually plug in my sewing machines and stitch. It was only a little project; the Sugar Block BOM, but still, it was sewing.

We are in the very middle of a kitchen renovation and I knew once I got back into my studio, it would be a chore to get me back out. I had to satiate my vice a bit by at least doing a block. And, Jim is working right in the middle of the kitchen so I was becoming an extra obstacle rather then any type of assistant.

It should be enough to "calm" me for a few more days. My mom says, "I have it bad." Whatever it is, I miss it but am looking forward to cooking again soon. Much of you don't know this, but cooking is nearly as addictive to me as sewing and I couldn't bring myself to do it in the nasty kitchen the house sported until now.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Back from Cali!

Here's the quilt our new grandson gets to drool and play on.

Tristan's New Floor Quilt
I probably posted this previously but since I haven't been home in so long, I forget whether I did or not.

I really want to sew something today! However, I have incurred a slight injury in my travels and am not very mobile so this may not happen. Not to mention, I'm working on about four hours of sleep and feel like I'm paddling through Jell-O.

While in California snuggling and loving our new grandson, I was able to produce quite a few hexagons. Let me see, I'll take a count...131. Hmm...thought I did more then that, but I'll take it.

The leaves are nearly all off the trees and it looks like we're settling into our dismal fall weather patterns. It's a great day to sew, so if you can, enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Classes, Classes, Classes

Since last Wednesday, it seems like I've spent more time in classes then I have in my studio. Oh wait, that's actually a true statement!

Friday and Saturday was spent with an amazing instructor named Sue Wilson who taught the Judy Neimeyer method of quilt construction. Judy is the lady who wrote the Amazon Star pattern and who has a plethora of other amazing quilt patterns available.

But, her quilt patterns (most of them anyway) are extremely intricate and very time consuming! There is a special way, from start to finish, on how to construct her masterpieces, and it took a two day class to decipher a small 46"x46" wall hanging. I'm a little under half way into completion even after spending some time in here yesterday on it.

The class was so worth it and I even picked up another pattern to do at a later time. There were several patterns I wanted to pick up but am getting ready for my trip to Cali to see the kids and didn't want to get crazy before leaving.

The receiving blanket quilt is on DW and ready to quilt. I hope to take that with on Wednesday. I'll continue to putter in here on my Pepperdish wall hanging too and probably won't be blogging much for the next two weeks since our nephew is here from Tennessee for a visit.

I'll be back around the first of the month and until then...

...be happy and keep quilting!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Green Light

Bonnie Hunter is a quilter located somewhere in the Carolina's. She is known for her scrappy quilts and wonderful quilt patterns. She also does a mystery quilt every fall and it's about this time of year she announces her color scheme. 

The colors this year are mimicked from the Grand Hotel on our very own Mackinaw Island. While I love most of the colors she has selected, pink is the one I just can not do. I don't hate pink, but setting it into a quilt for the unknown recipient is just not going to happen.

She also uses one or two special rulers for her annual mystery quilt and I had yet to make up my mind whether I was going to do this years selection. After my class yesterday, and finding the special triangle tool we need to complete this years quilt, made my decision to go ahead with the mystery.

Just a recap...last years mystery quilt was the Celtic Solstice. I have completed the top, but have yet to get it on DW. Probably because I did the king sized version and finding backing fabric for it has been, well, a mystery.

Meanwhile...

The kids in Cali have asked for me to bring this quilt along since the top is now completed. I still need to quilt it but should be able to work it into todays schedule.

Tristan's New Floor Quilt
Class yesterday was very, very informative. We have these huge machines that do a multitude of stitches, but in reality, we only use about five of the hundreds available to us. This class teaches us to use the variety of stitches available in a useful way rather then repeatedly ignoring them.

Stitcher's Garden 1st Block
This is the completed block I finished when I got home.

Applique Detail
Here is some of the detail put into each of the appliqué pieces. Generally I would have just blanket stitched around each of the pieces, but if you look carefully, there are flowers, sprays, and tracks surrounding the appliqué elements.

Today I have to prepare for my class over the weekend; a look into Judy Neimeyer paper piecing. All the fabrics have arrived and they need to be sorted and pressed before moving along.

Afterwards I need to finish my Check Mark quilt top (only the borders to go), and get the baby quilt quilted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Birthday Week

Monday: Finished Animal Whimsy! Got the top trimmed up and the binding on. Hurray!

Put together the Spartan "S" receiving blanket quilt. I'm trying to decide if I should border this quilt or not. It seems like whatever color I snug up to it is not working. Borderless it is!

Tuesday; my birthday. Did errands in the morning and then came home mid-afternoon and finished the Check Mark top piecing. I have to get borders on it yet, but all the freezer paper numbers are off, the basting stitches are pulled and now I have to check my directions to see what I do next.

I have class in Portland today for A Stitchers Garden BOM. I take this class with a fellow guilder so it should be fun, fun, fun! We have already attended our planning session and today we actually get to do our first block.

The blocks are a combination of appliqué and piecing, which is the best of both worlds I think.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Quick Synopsis

Wednesday: Put together the orphan blocks.


Jim loves this quilt. I'm still not so sure.

Found some more UFO stuff in my studio and put this up on the design wall.


The white patches are receiving blankets from the boys I cut up years ago. The green is a newer flannel a friend (I think) donated to me and it worked with the whole theme.

Thursday: Class in Ann Arbor. Here's where I left off from my six hour class. This is the reverse side, but I'm trying to protect it from the suns rays that filter through my window.


Friday: Finished quilting Animal Whimsy with Jim's mom. Tried to get her to play with DW. She ran away. 

Saturday: Purchased about 50 yards of backing fabric from Fields Fabric in Grand Rapids. Great prices and the quality is pretty good. Will be able to finish around 10 quilts with it all. Also purchased black sashing fabric for the last BOM/Scrap Squad block exchange quilt.

Saturday Afternoon: Had to clean out the spare room closet as the rod fell down away from the wall. It buried all the unfinished tops put in there to accommodate visitors this weekend. Ugh!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Continuing On

The house cleaning continues. The first order of business was to get the little hourglass string quilt off the design wall and finish it.

Here's what I came up with.

Giddy Up
This may end up being the reunion quilt for 2015...hmmm?

It was Tuesday and so another house was in order. This is #15 and the last of the houses. I thought after making this house I could start putting the top together, but after reading the directions realized there are a number of different trees we'll be using to set in between the houses and along the borders.

The First Snow; #15
Moving along. My Sugar Block BOM from 2013 was sitting in the pile I made the day before. It seemed the next logical step in cleaning house and by the end of the evening, this is what I came up with for those blocks.
Sugar Block BOM 2013
I still have three more piles to sort through today. I may end up combining the Craftsy BOM from 2012 and the exchange blocks from my Scrap Squad members into one quilt. I'll have to wait and see what I get on the design wall. They are all done in yellow, black, white, and a little red. I wonder where I got the colors for my studio? :-)

I'm also excited to get into my orphan block pile. This quilt will probably end up being pretty fugly but until I get it up, won't know if I can actually use these blocks together or how I'm going to deal with them.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cleaning House

When we moved the studio around a week or two ago, my plastic drawer bins were never cleaned out. I knew I needed to get to that sooner or later and yesterday was the day.

After finishing the mega hexagon top, I was pretty much out of projects I could currently work on. I tried to locate the blue polka dotted strips that are the basis of my string quilt blocks hanging around on my shelves, and this lead me to my bins.

After unsuccessfully locating the polka dotted strips, I was able to successfully locate something more to do. Hark! Lots of BOM's that had yet to be put together and a LOT of triangles. I should have taken a pic of the mess I created while cleaning.

I saved too many of these triangles over the years and it was time to cut the apron strings. Anything less then 2 1/2" was to be recycled and off to Dee.

The iron and I were vast becoming best friends as I sorted, ironed, and then appropriately put into size-type piles to be replaced back into the bins for future projects.

Here's the pile of BOM's I have to work on over the next few whatever.

BOM's ready to get together and a pile of orphan blocks
I love the way the light slants into the studio in the morning.

Enough for a small baby quilt...or something
I had enough of these blocks to get on the design wall as a something or another. I'll just either sash them or put them together as is to make a baby quilt for somebody.

Easter Chicks
This block was from my 100 blocks Volume 5 (I think) while I was working for them. Jim wanted me to finish it up for our little quilt rack on the piano.

This was a test block for a Craftsy class I took
Jim wanted me to finish this block too for the piano rack. It'll be nice to hang around Independence Day.
Hi Caleb!
This is Lily. She was watching me take picks of the two piano rack quilts and just begged to be photographed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I still have not located those blasted blue polka-dotted strips. They can't be far and my studio isn't that big, so eventually I'll stumble across them and then put them near the blocks they belong with.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Little Projects

I think I've mentioned before that Sunday's are a great day for those little projects hanging around here; things I've saved in my head or in my project basket to work on for those lazy, rainy Sundays.

Here are the two I spent yesterday working on.

This is one of three the kids in Lansing will be receiving for Christmas. I know they don't usually frequent my blog so I can post them here without too much concern.

This is Tater Puss.

Tater Puss
I tried to use a satin stitch on his appliqué pieces. Not too bad for my first attempt, but I need to get with Carol R. in our guild to seek out more information. My bends and curves aren't the smoothest, but I don't think the kids will really notice.

Help!
I saw this pic on a Facebook posting and after finishing Tater Puss remembered it somewhere in the back of my head. I constructed most of it from memory and then Jim was able to filter it out of my FB page. Luckily, I was pretty much on track and this is our finished wall hanging.

I usually put this kind of stuff in my studio, but with the colors I used and after bringing it into the Family Room, decided it needed to stay in there. It just makes me giggle and hopefully it will to others who come to visit.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mega Hexy

When you design a quilt from scratch, much of the time is spent measuring, doing math, measuring some more, cutting, sewing, ripping, re-cutting, re-sewing and hoping it all works out. Here is where I ended up Friday night.

Here's a giant Grandmothers Flower Garden. Now what?
I had to decide whether I wanted to finish the quilt off as it was, or go a little further with it. Did I really want to tackle all those weird binding angles and furthermore, would the finished product really lend itself to being a useful quilt in this particular shape?

I decided "No" on both accounts. The binding would have been do-able, but the second question was of more importance; would the quilt be usable and was I just making it to make it? I want my quilts to be loved and used and needed by somebody to keep warm, not just a blob of material that looks nice.

After arriving back home from our travels yesterday afternoon, I dug into more of my fat quarters and yards of fabrics and came up with enough light colors to surround the hexagon into a more manageable configuration.

More like a quilt shape now
This was another measuring, cutting, etc. dance and I was pretty tired of working with this after I got everything onto the design wall.

On to something else. Animal Whimsy is almost done. Only six more blocks to free motion and it'll be ready to get off the frame.

Our son and DIL in Lansing have moved into a new house and they need some art to put on the walls. I had my DIL pick out three cat pieces from The Marshall House quilt shop and I began one of those on Friday night as well. No pics yet, but they should turn out really cute and look nice in her kitchen once completed.

While at Gall yesterday, I had to ask the difference between a couching foot and a cording foot for my sewing machine. Two classes I'm currently enrolled in call for both feet to be used on future projects, and of course, neither Laura or Temp came with either of them. Cindy explained the difference and I'll have to invest in those in the near future.

Our long-arm class was a bust yesterday because the shop owner took the long-arm machines to Grand Rapids for the weekend quilt show up there.

Looking forward to my Bargello class on Thursday in Ann Arbor. There is some discrepancy in the directions that were supposed to have come to us for the class, but we are getting everything ironed out prior to the class beginning.

The T-Shirt quilt was delivered and the customer absolutely went nuts. He and his wife seemed to love what I did throughout the piece and he said his mom would probably cry when she received it for this upcoming Christmas. This alone is why I quilt. If I can make somebody happy about what they receive, it's certainly all worth it!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Giant Hexagon Invasion

Here is my first round. A new experience with those Y seams let me tell ya. But, with my guild friends' instructions I seem to be getting along with them fairly well. Only one very tiny pucker so far in one of those seems and I can probably work that out during the final pressing.

This measure 46" side to side. The finished quilt is going to be rather large I think.

Super-Sized Hexagon beginning
The rest of the day was spent working on Animal Whimsy. Some of the quilt is being done with the Pro Stitcher, and the rest is being done free motion. I think I finally have a handle on these swirls.

Swirls
The quilting weather forecast is perfect for the next few days. I have a class tomorrow morning at Gall learning how to do Pantographs. This is all brand new to me and will be exciting to learn another long-arm technique.

A English Paper Piecing get together at the Hen House follows my long arm class. I don't know if I'll attend this but it sounds like a fun option on a rainy, cold filled day.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Autumn is Here!

I love fall. The maple tree out front is already peaked out, but then again, it's not a real healthy tree so it has a tendency to loose its color/leaves earlier then most of the other trees around the place.

Autumn is a time to clean, organize, and create! With the sun's rays slanting through the studio windows at such an inviting angle, it's hard not to just want to live in here. Oh wait, I already pretty much do.

Therapy in Session is finished.

My sentiments exactly!
Here's a close-up of the hair I quilted in. 

Yellow hair of course!
We have another candidate on the long-arm; Animal Whimsy. I love this quilt and the expression each of the farm animals carries. I'll have to be careful when working on this one though because I have already included the eyes, which are very small buttons, on each of the animals. DW and plastic buttons probably wouldn't get along too well.


Animal Whimsy
A few of the guild members are "super-sizing" quilt blocks. One member has just completed a Churn Dash block, and another one is doing a huge Log Cabin. Can you tell what I'll be super sizing?

Hmmm?
I didn't receive my Sugar BOM yesterday, but noticed it came through this morning. Therefore, it was not my negligence in getting my FB profile pic updated yesterday. Ha!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Batteries Full

I love a day where I can look back and say to myself, "Wow, I did a lot today."

Starting with our binding on the Stars and Moon quilt, it is now finished.

Stars and Moon
Label for our T-Shirt quilt customer was attached and now that quilt is ready for delivery (I just need to price it out and get the invoice printed).

T-Shirt Quilt Label
There isn't one quilting chore that I absolutely hate doing. Honestly! Every part of the quilting process is an experience into another hour of bliss. However, labels are probably up there with the "least favorite" category basically because most recipients view it is a non-significance. I literally spend at least two hours in making, printing, and sewing the quilt label onto a quilt.

House #14
One more week and we'll be done with individual houses. I can start constructing the quilt after next Tuesday. Hurray

It was 5:00 or thereabouts and all my to-do's were done. What to do next? My guild friend who dropped off those two totes last week? Yeah, she had a number of kits in one tote alone. This is kit number 2.

Therapy in Session
I started on this little wall hanging and accomplished most of the outer edges yesterday. The directions do not say what to do with the center section, but I'm thinking some thread sketching in some of the blocks within the drawing may be kind of cool. Gotta give the lady yellow hair as well, right?

Jim and I have company coming in a few weeks so we are sorting through the tops/backings in the spare room. We have another six or thereabouts to get on DW which was surprising to me because I thought I was down to about three.