Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

Judy wanted to know how many of us who are making a weekly stashbusting report are still making a big effort or whether we've given in and aren't so committed to busting the stash. Since I added another 22-1/2 yards to my stash this week, I thought I'd better sit down and really think about this. I'm also going to quilt show this week, and you probably know what that means. While I am shopping for yardage requirements for several specific quilts, I am also sure there will be some discretionary spending, which will probably put me so far in the hole that I don't even want to think about it.

For years I bought fabric indiscriminately for no good reason other than because I liked it and because I was intent on building a good stash to draw on. Back then I lived more than an hour away from any decent quilt shop, and it usually meant a day long road trip every time I wanted to make a new quilt. After a while, it's a hard habit to break.

We moved four times in six years; and of course every time we moved there was even more fabric. The last move was what it finally took to make me realize that enough was enough. I would like to be able to say that I don't shop indiscriminately anymore, but that would not be entirely true. Suffice to say that the majority of the time, I buy specific yardage for a specific project because it's not available in the stash.

So, am I still committed to reducing the stash? Yes. Will I continue to buy more fabric this year? Yes. Evelyn left a comment on my Sunday Stash Report a week ago, and she wrote that her goal really isn't to use up her stash, but rather to use it at a fast enough pace to replace it with newer fabrics as she goes along. That makes some sense to me because that is probably the way I actually work with the stash I have. At the end of the day though, it still is my goal to use more than I've added.

That said, here's the stash report for this Sunday:

Fabric added this week: 22-1/2 yards
Fabric added year to date: 63-1/2 yards
Fabric used this week: 8 yards
Fabric used year to date: 42-1/8 yards
Net used year to date: In the hole to the tune of 21-3/8 yards

Even if I am in the hole, I'm still feeling really good about using 42 yards of fabric so far this year.

The 8 yards I used this week was for the backing on the new quilt I've been working on. The fabrics used in that quilt were part of a Keepsake Quilting medley called Courtney, so in the short term I'll just refer to the quilt as the Courtney quilt. The pattern actually does have a name; but I can't share any more details about the pattern or the quilt until the pattern goes to press, and that could be another month. I debated whether or not I should even mention it on my blog at all, because it's not much fun not to be able to see some photos; but it is what I'm doing in the sewing room, and you will see the whole quilt eventually. And it will have to be this way for the other patterns I'm working on this year for Koleen as well. So the Courtney quilt will be hopefully be finished and ready to hand off to the machine quilter before I go to Lancaster.

I already have the next pattern Koleen wants me to work on, and I'll be using some of those 30's reproduction fabrics I bought a few weeks ago. This pattern uses a bunch of half square triangle units, so I'll cut those out and prepare a bunch of them for hand piecing while I'm in Lancaster.

I also dug out a couple of UFO's from way back when that also used 30s repros and decided to try to finish them at the same time. One of those is an irish chain, and the second one, called Lover's Knot, is shown in the photo.

I hate everything about this little quilt except the fabrics. I hate the pattern, I hated piecing it, and I especially hated making those dratted yo yos, and I still have three more to make! Why did I even start it? Because it was part of an ongoing block swap with friends, and I wanted to participate. Now I've lost the pattern, so I'll have to draft a new template to fill in the edges, because I am certainly not going to continue torturing myself by binding that edge the way it is. My plan is to add white fabric in between the hexagons to square it up and call it good. I am making myself finish it because it is character building or something and because it will make a sweet baby quilt the next time I need one in a hurry.

Credit where credit is due:
Lover's Knot can be found in Electric Quilt's Blockbase program and is copyright-free

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Amy the Dachshund

Becky wrote and wanted to see a picture of my dachshund, because she has one also and has a photo of him on her blog. Her dog Rusty looks like a red-haired dachshund and is a very cute little guy. Amy is also a red-haired dachshund, but she is so gray now around her muzzle and is graying on her legs and feet too.

My Amy is not like all those cute, playful dogs and cats I've seen on other blogs. She is old, tired, and ailing; and this is where we generally expect to find her about 23 hours of the day. The only time she really perks up is at meal time and on the rare occasion that we have a guest in the house. She has cloudiness, maybe cataracts, in one eye, and we discovered recently that she's losing her hearing. Amy will be 14 or 15 this summer, I've forgotten now which it is. She's outlived her brother, who was a year older and succumbed to disc disease many years ago, as well as another companion, also a dachshund, who was seven and passed away suddenly just about a year ago.

Amy is, without a doubt, the sweetest animal I've ever known. We've noticed that she's slowed down even more lately, and I am fearful we may not have her for too many more years. Our goal is to keep her as happy and as comfortable as possible as she ages. We will all miss her terribly when she's gone.

Bloomin' Nine Patch

When I was unable to continue building the Tin Lizzie frame, I went over to Kay's for our bi-monthly quilt meeting. I'd been working on the binding for this Bloomin' Nine Patch and brought it with me and finished it Friday evening. This pattern is from the book Tradition With a Twist by Blanche Young and has been around a long time. Nine patch is one of my very favorite blocks, and this is a really easy quilt to piece. I already have fabrics selected for a couple more of these.

My husband's comment when he saw the Bloomin' Nine Patch for the first time was, we're not giving this away, are we? He loves it, almost as much as he loves this one I made for him last year, the Monticello quilt. This was a kit he picked out when we visited the Jinny Beyer Studio in Great Falls, Virginia a few years ago. He'd waited for years to me to finish a quilt for him and was so happy when I finally got this one done.

I am exceedingly fond of Jinny Beyer fabrics and border prints. They've been favorites of mine since I began quilting, so visiting her shop is always a heavenly experience for me.

I also love kits and have several others waiting in the wings. They're wonderful for those times when I just feel like piecing and don't want to go through the trial of choosing fabrics. It bothers me not that there may be a hundred or a thousand other people out there with the exact same kit. Chances are, I'll never see any of them; and in the meantime I have one in my home to enjoy using every day.

My good friend Ann quilted both of these quilts for me with a baptist fan, which is my new favorite quilting design.

Credit where credit is due:
Monticello quilt design by Jinny Beyer


The frame for the Tin Lizzie did indeed arrive on Friday morning. It was shipped in two cartons totaling over 100 pounds; so I slid each box down into the basement over carpeted steps, then dragged the boxes into my sewing room.

The frame is made of 13-ply cabinet-grade baltic birch wood, which is a dense, heavy, high-strength wood. Every piece was sanded very smooth, and all the edges are rounded--really a very nice frame. There were so many pieces to put together that I thought I'd label them so I wouldn't get confused.

The directions in the manual are well written and the diagrams are great; but there were a few errors in the instructions. Nothing that I couldn't figure out easily enough though. In fact, I got all the way to Step 2 before I came to a standstill. I just didn't have quite enough strength to turn the wood screws in all the way for the metal braces on the legs. By the time my hsuband got home from work and we got supper out of the way, it was too late to continue; so we decided to get up early Saturday morning and make a fresh start.

I read on the Tin Lizzie list that someone had gotten her frame together in two and a half hours, but I have no idea how she managed it. It took more than double the time for two of us to finally get her together, but we persevered, and here she is.

Looks pretty good, but there's a problem with the leaders, which I'll have to address with the vendor before I can load a quilt onto the frame. A longarm quilter with a discerning eye may be able to identify the problem in this photo.

I am going to try to figure out a way to temporarily attach a small quilt sandwich to the leaders to at least try out the sewing machine and make sure it works. I also want to be fully armed when I make my way to the Tin Lizzie booth in Lancaster--with questions, comments--and one of those cloth leaders.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all who celebrate the holiday.

This is a small quilt I finished last year, called Easter Egg Hunt by the Quilted Cardinal. Although you can't really see it very well, the border in between the two golds is a fabric with easter eggs on it; and those are the colors used in the rest of the quilt.

The crazy pieced block element and borders were a recurring theme in Koleen's pattern line last year; and they're fun to do and use up lots of scraps. I machine appliqued the flowers and leaves with a buttonhole stitch, and I just love how that looks.

I have a lot to blog about today, but I also have a lot of work to do to finish up the latest quilt I'm working on; so I'll be going back and forth between the computer and sewing machine today.
Credit where credit is due:
Easter Egg Hunt quilt design by Koleen Painchaud, The Quilted Cardinal

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Goal Realized

I've been thinking about getting a longarm for a couple of years now and have mentioned it once or twice on my blog. It was my intention to look at them some more at a couple of upcoming quilt shows this spring and then make a decision. Lately I've been thinking about something that JudyL wrote on her blog at the end of February about not being afraid to take a chance to achieve your goals. Well, none of us is getting any younger, including me; so when an opportunity presented itself recently to acquire a longarm, I seized it.

Today my Tin Lizzie 18 LS arrived, and here she is on the table in my sewing room. Tomorrow the second shipment, containing the frame and the rest of the accessories, is scheduled to arrive.

The machine head came out of the carton just as you see it, and I spent the rest of the afternoon attaching various components to the machine--handles, lamp, thread holders, and so on. Putting these pieces together felt a little like building an erector set, and I had some minor trouble with a couple of things, but nothing my husband couldn't fix when he got home. After we got everything put together, I was very tempted to plug it in and give her a test drive; but I have no idea if you can use these machines like a regular sewing machine where you move the fabric, so I decided to leave well enough alone.

Tuesday I am leaving on a bus trip for Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the Quilters Heritage Celebration quilt show. The trip was planned a year ago by a local quilt shop, and there are a dozen or so quilters I know who are also going; so we'll have a fabulous time. Tin Lizzie is supposed to have a booth at the show, so hopefully I'll have an opportunity to ask questions, and to purchase some thread, maybe a video or two, and a couple of pantographs.

I have some of the rows sewn together for the new quilt and have started working on the borders. There are 52 pieced blocks in the outer border, so I'll be busy with that all weekend. In an ideal world, I'd like to finish this quilt top before I go to Lancaster. I'll be starting the next quilt for my friend as soon as I come back. I've also been working on the binding on my Blooming Nine Patch, and I'd like to get that finished this weekend as well and post a photo of it.

Lunch, Anyone?

Here's what the bird feeder is used for in my yard....sigh.... This is probably the same fellow that was using the birdhouse.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

I have been sewing like crazy this week and have completed 34 of the 36 blocks required for the new quilt, but it will be a little while before I can put photos up on the blog. Tomorrow I'll finish the last two blocks, start sewing the blocks into rows, and work on a few border units.

The new quilt used up 10-1/2 of the 28 yards I added to my stash last week, but for the year I've still used less than I've added. I'll just have to keep chipping away at it!

Fabric added this week: 0

Fabric added year to date: 41 yards
Fabric used this week: 10-1/2 yards
Fabric used year to date: 34-1/8 yards
Net year to date: Negative something or other!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A New Quilt

The Zig Zag, Scrappy Bargello, and Turning Twenty quilts have all gone on the back burner for the time being. I will finish quilting the Zig Zag on my Bernina eventually; but I have something else in mind for the Scrappy Bargello, so I'll wait on that for a little while. I've also decided that I really am not crazy about the Turning Twenty quilt. Since I haven't yet sewn the blocks into rows, I'm going to cut up the blocks into strips and turn it into a lasagna quilt, like Bonnie has on her website. She calls her pattern Simply Strippy, and I think I'll like that much better.

In the meantime, I cut all the pieces for my next quilt using some of the fabrics I just bought. This quilt is a collaborative effort, so I'm not able to share much information about it right now; but it's a lovely pattern with easy piecing, and I think it will be beautiful when it's finished. I shortchanged myself on the background fabric by over a yard and had to order more from Keepsake Quilting. Thank goodness they still have it available! Hard to believe the pieces in the photo are for a queen-sized quilt, isn't it?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

This week was a wash as far as trying to accomplish anything in the sewing room. When I have late shifts at work, I vege when I get home; and three nights in a row this week I got home from work just before 7:30. By the time supper is over and the dishes are done, there's not much left of the evening anyway. It is beginning to grate on me to have three unfinished projects lying around the sewing room, and they could quite possibly turn into UFOs before very long.

Saturday I asked my husband to take me down to New Hampshire to Keepsake Quilting. A friend and I are collaborating on some quilts this year, most of which have planned color schemes. I usually don't have the yardage available for something like this, so a shopping trip was in order. First the trip was off because freezing rain was predicted; then the trip was back on because it was too warm for anything to freeze, so we got a late start.

It was a two and a half hour drive to the quilt shop, and I spent about two hours in the shop playing with fabric to my heart's content. I found a set of six fabrics that I like for one of the quilts. I'm still not quite sure about the large floral and may wind up switching that out with something else, but I really like this combination otherwise.

I also bought a set of 50 fat quarters with a 30's reproduction theme. I've always disliked 30s repros, but they've grown on me in recent years, and I'm finding more patterns that use them. I'll be able to get two quilts easily out of the bundle. All three of these quilts will get made up later on this year, so all the fabric will be back out of the stash.

I also bought 4 yards of a fabric that will make a beautiful background in some other quilt. I buy yardage of good backgrounds when I see them, because I'm fussy about them, and I got tired of tan and white backgrounds for everything.

That brings the total added to the stash this week to a whopping 28 yards. It doesn't particularly bother me, but it does make me question how dedicated I really am to reducing the size of my stash. On the other hand, it's fun to keep to track of how much I'm actually using, so I'll keep doing it.

I showed this pattern to my husband because I thought he might like it, and we took this home with us too. I guess seeing a moose is part of the Maine experience, and we have seen them once, along the highway. This is an accurate representation of what a moose really looks like. It's all done in raw edge applique, and I think it'll be fun to do. My husband has already claimed this.

The Log Cabin Fever book arrived this week too, and this is the quilt I liked so much and wanted to make.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fledgling Attempt at Machine Quilting

I wasn't quite ready to tackle machine quilting the Scrappy Bargello yet, so I decided to start with a small quilt top that I finished last year. Simple pattern, composed of half square triangles, a pattern called Ric Rac. Our local quilt shop conducts Project Linus drives periodically, so all the fabrics for the top were donated; and each quilter was given a package of squares, border fabrics, and the directions to create a quilt.

I used 505 spray adhesive to secure the layers of the quilt, with a few flathead flower pins thrown in for good measure. Although I've been warned not to use pins like this, naturally I had to give it a try. It actually worked out okay, and I only stabbed myself once. It helps to be wearing two layers of long sleeved clothing and machine quilters gloves, so there's no flesh exposed.

Next time, I think I'd like to try using a fusible batting. The spray adhesive seemed to work pretty well, but it's a chore to spray baste a larger quilt. If anyone has any experience with fusible batting, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

I've only made one pass down the length of the quilt so far, quilting a three-block width at a time, and I sure learned a lot. Big difference between manipulating an entire quilt top and the small 8-1/2 x 11-inch sandwiches I've been practicing on. I had to reposition my hands every three or four inches, and every start and stop is visible to me, either because the stitches are very tiny, or because the quilt pulled against the needle a little bit when I was repositioning, and the needle jumped when I started quilting again. As I went along, I gradually relaxed and slowed down a little, which gave me better control. By the time I got to the end of the row, I could see some small improvements in the consistency of the stitch length, and the starts and stops.

I have a Bernina stitch regulator attached to my machine; and while it is a huge help, it functions best if you can maintain a fairly steady pace. If I jerk my hands for some reason, the stitch regulator responds by creating a toe hooker; and I had some big ones in this first pass.

I was delighted that there were no tucks on the back. I thought I smoothed the layers out well; but yet when I machine quilted down to the end of the row, the backing was bunched up at the end. I ran a basting thread around the whole outside edge of the quilt, and the backing bunched up against that basting thread. Removing the basting thread will alleviate the problem, but I'm wondering now what will happen when I quilt the rest of the quilt. Will it be out of square? Will one section shift more than another? I'm exhausted after all this, so only tomorrow will tell.

Credit where credit is due:
Ric Rac quilt design by Debbie Mumm, Aug 2001 Quilting Project of the Month

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Stash Report

This week I used 1-1/4 yards for the ironing mat; 3 yards for the Scrappy Bargello backing; and 5 yards in the Turning Twenty top. Today over at Koleen's, I did buy 2 yards of a fabric I liked very much but didn't really need.


Fabric used this week: 9-1/4 yards
Fabric purchased this week: 2 yards
Fabric used year to date: 23-5/8 yards
Fabric purchased year to date: 13 yards
Net used: 10-5/8 yards

That's a little more respectable than last week.

Turning Twenty Workshop

We met at 9:00 this morning in Koleen's new studio for the Turning Twenty workshop. There were nine of us in attendance; seven of us worked on the Turning Twenty quilt top. The other two ladies brought other projects to work on. By the end of the afternoon, five ladies had completed their tops. This is my good friend Kay in the photo. Barbara and I finished our blocks but decided to take them home and play with them on the design wall. Barbara's quilt is the only one I didn't get a photo of. It was easy, fast piecing, but I still can't decide if I like the results well enough to make this pattern again.

Barbara is also a long arm quilter, and she has recently moved her longarm up to Maine from Florida. She has a Tin Lizzie, which is one of several longarms I've been researching. I was anxious to give it a test drive; so we played with it for a little while this afternoon, and I was very impressed. It tracks beautifully; and it seems to have all the features I want, including an attractive price. I'll be looking some more at longarms at the Heritage Celebration quilt show in Lancaster in March, and at the Machine Quilters Expo in April in New Hampshire; but I am another step closer to purchasing one after today. The difference between moving the machine instead of moving the fabric on a domestic is like night and day.

Koleen had a lovely quilt displayed in her studio, a pattern from a book by Evelyn Sloppy called Log Cabin Fever. I took a look at Koleen's book and liked it well enough to buy it, so I looked online for it when I got home this afternoon. The book was published in 2002, and it's out of print now; but I fully expected to still be able to find it at or someplace.

Well, it's on Amazon alright--for upwards of $48. At Alibris, you can purchase this book for as much as $183! Are these people insane? Who would pay that for a quilting book? I tried to find a copy of a book by Gwen Marston one time and ran into the same thing. After considerable time searching, I finally found a copy at a small quilt shop in North Carolina for $24.95 and ordered it. I just hope I don't get an email from them in the next couple days telling me they don't have it. If I do, I'll do without!

Our friend Margo stopped in for a while this afternoon. She finally took the plunge and started her own blog, so if you have a chance, stop by. The link to her blog is in my sidebar, Heart in His Hand Quilting. Margo has done some wonderful quilts and will be putting up some photos on her website soon.

Credit where credit is due:
Turning Twenty quilt design by Tricia Cribbs, Turning Twenty

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Long Day

It is so late, and I have an early start for my workshop tomorrow; but I did want to make a progress report. I finished my Scrappy Bargello top, finally!, and got most of the back pieced too.

The back is not particularly attractive, but I used up most of the fabrics left over from the top, which makes me very happy! Now that I see the photo, something is the matter with the lower left corner--it looks like it pulls in a little or something, so I'll have to rip that out and redo it tomorrow. I thought I measured so carefully!

I also got all my fabrics washed, pressed, and cut for the Turning Twenty quilt. Cutting takes a lot of time! If the top goes together pretty quickly as I'm expecting, I might make another one of these. This pattern requires 20 fat quarters for the top, so it's a good little stashbuster.

Credit where credit is due:
Scrappy Bargello inspired by Bonnie Hunter's Incredible Scrappy Bargello and Scrappy Trips Around the World,


I lost my focus this week and managed to get almost nothing done in my sewing room, bouncing from one thing to another without really moving forward. The ironing mat was a simple project; and I was determined not to let that become a UFO, so that did get done.

I expected to go to the machine quilter's skill builder workshop this morning, but it was cancelled because... you guessed it, we're having another snowstorm. We had 7 inches this past Tuesday, and another 9-16+ inches is expected throughout the day today. That actually worked out pretty well, because it gives me a jump start on what I was hoping to accomplish over the weekend.

Tomorrow I have another workshop scheduled, and we're making a Turning Twenty top. I was never fond of this pattern, but it will serve several purposes, busting more stash and practicing machine quilting. I'd like to give this to my niece for her little girl. I've always wanted to make a blue and yellow quilt, so those are the colors I'll be using.

This weekend I would like to:
  • Finish the Scrappy Bargello top and quilt it
  • Quilt another small lap quilt that has been a UFO since last year
  • Wash and cut the fabrics for the Turning Twenty (today)
  • Make the Turning Twenty top (tomorrow)

That doesn't sound like much, does it? But it still might be a stretch for me; because as I've mentioned before, I'm a turtle in the sewing room. We'll see how it goes.