Sunday, January 31, 2016

Of Course

Yes. Another mystery.

I jumped whole-heartedly into this one and am loving the results.

I really thought I had enough fabric for the BOM quilt, yet, by expanding from 12 to 16 blocks, it ran short. I headed off to the store in town to pick up a bit more and got extra, just in case, and because stores in town are closed on Sundays and Mondays. That 'just in case' shopping is what builds stash. Most of the horizontal sashing is on, and the vertical sashing is cut. I need to finish up the horizontals, add the sides and the two borders.

Australian Quilters hosted this BOM. Here in the US, we word things differently, and rarely use metric systems. I misunderstood a part of the instructions (go figure) when it listed requirements for sashing, borders and binding. When the final layout was released before the final block, I could see the instructions in picture format. The blocks are framed first of all, then sashed. And the dark brown colored frame looks to be repeated as a small border. 

That small border is what they call a 'peeper' border in Australia. The graphic is very different from what I am used to seeing in quilts. I like it a lot, but its not what I planned for with this one. And I am not sure if it is actually framed twice. I guess it is up to interpretation. They did say that if you framed with a dark color to sash with a light color, or the other way with a light colored frame and a dark sash. 


The second set of instructions provided for more clarity say you can use the same fabric for the peeper as was used for the frame, and would also be used for the binding. You can also get a contrasting color, the instructions said. That information doesn't seem to appear with the first page of instructions that told how much fabric to buy; or if it was there, I didn't see it and still cannot see it. I wanted a less busy peeper border because of what I got for the focus fabric. AND it looks like that last border is small. It is. I planned the focus fabric to be larger than the 3" sashing. The pattern calls for it to be 2.5" and with the larger print I bought, that would not set it off the way it deserves. I did NOT see it as only 2.5" wide because I became used to using a larger print and making the last border wider.

Other quilts made in the group used the same fabric for the sashing and the last border, and they look charming. Mine is not following conventional thinking at all. I think they follow traditions better. It is all about choice, even though you don't know what your choices will bring. 

I brought home three fabrics for the peeper border and felt like Goldilocks trying out porridge, laying one out after the other. The green made it look too green and I wanted red. The red was too red and didn't compliment the blocks. The odd red with gold sparkly stuff was oddly just right. It sure will be interesting to see how it turns out. And now, I have two 1/4 yards of a red and a green that add to the stash. 

Good goddess!

So very little left of the Fat Quarters, so this was successful at destashing. I need to cut what I can from the bits to add to my scrap bins or the pet bed project.

I am drawn to the mystery quilt, loving how they turn out. Yet, I always feel over my head as I make them. What I did learn with this one was that I had to do things my way to be happy about it; There is always a price to pay with that method of living; If I am going to change the plan, there will be more work. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Prairie Queen

Why would anyone want stress in what they do for pleasure? There is so much in the world that harms us that we need to chose things and people, places and events that bring us pleasure without the pain. I remember my Granny telling me to always pick up a baby who was crying. She said they cry for specific reasons, and that we need to always pick them up and find out what is happening. She said there is enough in the world to cry about when we get older.

And now, I say that my life is worth enough so that I do not need to allow stress or trauma-drama into it without cause or reason. Quilting is something that I will make good choices about so that it is without the trauma-drama. This block is called the 'Prairie Queen' and I am including it in my Granddaughter's grad quilt so she has a cue to remember to be queen of her own life.

I've laid out the blocks, and want to live with them for the day and perhaps switch them out until I am happy with the arrangement. I am very glad I opted out of those last two BOM suggestions and put in my own ideas for six others to make it work. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

No Martha for This Quilt

After struggling with the block for way too many hours, let this be my official announcement that I am NOT making that block and am going onto one that I can do without stressing myself out! 

1 More Block Left to Make

Well, yes, three more blocks are finished for the quilt, yet one more to go. That Martha Washington Block. Gahhh.

I believe in magick. I think everyone does even though they name it other things because magick defines their beliefs, in my opinion.  We have to be careful about what we believe and what we think because these thoughts and beliefs are what we make happen in our lives or make manifest. Sometimes it is our beliefs that hold us back too if we believe we cannot do a thing, cannot be a thing.

This is the current layout for the quilt, which will change when I finish the last block and before the sashing is ready to go on. There is so little left of the fabric for the blocks. One of them is cut and ready to piece. That Martha Washington Block.

This 9-Patch Variable Block was so easy. The smaller blocks were cut from tiny scraps which was such a grace in scrap quilting and about all that was left to use. Sometimes the smallest bit of magick is what we need to change our lives. Yet, it seems that we must look for it, must see it in simple ways. Magick doesn't have to be huge, like winning billions of dollars. It is the result of what we think and what we believe.  

Finishing that one so easily gave me time to cut and piece the Dresden Plate Block. This is one I've made for other reasons. I had set aside the background piece, and then looked at what scraps were left and how they would look together. The photo doesn't show the true colors of fabrics but gives a good sense of how it looks. I really love this block and am glad to include it.

Then, with enough time and enough scraps, I made this one called obviously, Tick Tack Toe. Its not easily seen here in the photo, but lime green was used for the corner blocks. Maybe it will show more with the sashing.

What surprises me about the colors in this quilt is that most of them are various shades of red, along with the floral print on black. Yet, the orange dominates it and pulls orange out from almost all of them. I think this will continue with the focus fabric too, which is what the bars on the block above are. I still plan to hand quilt it with a red thread and look for a backing that has more red in it. 

What's this got to do with magick? I don't know and that's the mystery of it all. I do know I need more than a little magick to finish that last block. But it is a priority and I can do it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Celtic Twist Block

Not enough fabric scraps to do a Snail's Tail Block, so I moved along to the Celtic Twist. The pattern says it is a beginner's block, yet, holi ka! I wasn't sure how these colors would turn out, and that wasn't an issue as much as getting the pieces pieced. The pattern used the same color in various shades. I used what I had.

With quilting, life lived in the moment is re-affirmed for me. It makes no sense to try to make something that isn't working out. I wanted to make this block with a darker background rather than the light. I could have followed the pattern more closely if there were colors like the pattern used. Yet, this was my choice and I am sticking with it. Hah! No one will know once it is coordinated in with the others.

It took me all day to make this block. It was like a puzzle & a mystery. I numbered everything on the pattern and gave my colors a value too, so I could understand the mystery of it. You have to look hard at the twist to see the two white prints, the light green. The orange shows up here, but the idea is to see the entire twist without so much looking at the details. I plan to work on the block called 9-Patch Variation and move onto the Dresden Plate. With luck, the lighter fabrics will start to show up more.

I have not seen the real value in making sampler quilts though I have made them, and in fact have another one in progress. Usually, the blocks fit up against each other. With this BOM, the pattern called for framing and sashing. I am loving the black print framing and would like to make this quilt again knowing what I know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Expanding the BOM

After measuring the fabrics that were left in the project box for my Granddaughter's graduation quilt, it was a simple determination that there WAS enough fabric for framing, the borders, binding and some of the FQ's used for the blocks IF I added another light print. I want to push it from 12 blocks to 16. I recently discovered a white print that will work and added it. I am still working on the Martha Washington Star and decided not to do the next Gaggle of Pinwheels block.

That means I need to make five more blocks and finish that Martha Washington Star. The final layout will change, however, I wanted to see what was finished and 'audition' different block patterns. First of all, I want to feel comfortable making the remaining blocks AND they need to complement each other. I spent a little more time looking at different Sampler Quilts for ideas. 

Added to the mix are: Basket Weave, Snail's Tail, Celtic Twist, 9-Patch Variation, and Dresden Plate. The first two take two colors, then three for the next ones and by the time I make the Dresden Plate, any scraps will go into it. I've got no room for errors and need to make finishing this quilt my priority. I will need to buy backing and then hand quilt it, so the push is on.

The first one made is the Basket Weave. Now, if one were to use WOF (width of fabric) pieces, the cuts go quicker and assembling would be a snap. However, by the time pieces were cut into fabric for previous blocks, this process was cut and measure by 1.5" wide and 3.5" long, plus make two different strips. THEN, because all patterns are not written with the same 1/4" seam, the first sample was too short. Some seams in a pattern are scant, some generous, and some right on. It makes a difference when the block is finished. This pattern called for a seam that was middle of 'right on' & 'generous'. It has a heavier look to it because there is no white or light print.

I am hoping that my choices for the additional blocks will be pleasurable to the eye.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Long List of ...whatever

Somedays all I have to do is 'this and that' on my long list of 'whatever'. Its hard to expect any quilt to be completed without days and days, even weeks or months of prep work. Its like expecting the magick of the Universe to start bringing experiences and things into my life that I haven't even named. Long ago I learned that if I went to the grocery store without a list, I came back with bags full of things I only wanted and nothing that I needed!

My quilting list for each week gets me to pull out all my projects and take them to the next step. For instance, today, I did more of the machine quilting on the Summer Blues quilt, and pieced a back to one of the wallhangings. And I put borders on an Autumn wallhanging. This one was a little tricky because of the fabrics I had in the closet that would work. The inside background around the heart charms reads nice here simply because of the first dark border as well as the lovely focus fabric. It was challenging to find these.

Most of the next-step tasks are not photo worthy or distract from the finish of a quilt which would be 'ho-hum' if it shows up on the blog too often. They require small spurts of my attention too, so that I am able to do laundry, vacuum, or take on other household chores.

Its like every day, I come into my studio and ask myself, 'what do you have in store for me?' I know that if I haven't planned ahead for the week, I am going to come in here and bounce around and settle for whatever seems to grab my attention. Sure life can get in the way and make other plans for me in any given moment (like it did when I sliced my fingertip and went to ER). I just never know what I will get unless I ask for it first.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Paper Day

One of my neighbors came into the clubhouse when I was basting a quilt earlier this month. We decided to meet and do some of our own scrapbooking projects. I took a tote bag holding my family scrapbooks, and I brought some other Swap-bot projects to work on. I don't consider myself very skilled with paper arts and do very simple cutouts, glue sticks and store-bought accessories.

For the family project I got to thinking about how often there are three sisters in my Motherline. I don't have photos going back to my Grandmother's era, but think she had two Sisters. Then she had three Daughters. We lost a generation of Daughters on the Motherline, yet my elder Son has three Daughters, and I have three Great-Nieces. Unfortunately, my printer ink smeared so didn't get to that work.

My Swap-bot projects include a Valentine's Day Handmade Valentine for a woman who is quite the artist. I made her a similar 'hug' prayer flag I gave my younger Son for his birthday. Picture! 

Another of four Valentine swaps is for a 'kids' card' going out to 10 people. I bought these fun little cards that have Valentine buttons on them. And in order to mail them, also purchased blank cards with envelopes. I want to write, in kid printing...Do you like me? 
[] Yes  []No ...on the front and sign the inside with the swap information. However, it will show up better with a black marker pen and I didn't bring that. I did write my return addy on the envelopes. 

Then I am in a couple of swaps that re-use holiday cards as 4x6 postcards, so needed to simply glue them onto card stock to have them ready to mail out once the partners are assigned. Done.

I also bought regular valentine cards to send out that I started preparing as well by putting the return addy's on the envelopes. Gotta get on that soon.

Right now, I have a long list of quilting projects I want to do this week. Most of them are ones I need to carry to the next step and with luck, would get them to the stage of simply needing batting.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Keeping It A Surprise

I have a friend in WI, Rex. She is an extremely skilled fabric artist and raises her own silkworms, spins what they give her. She is also skilled with paints and colors, and even teaches. She gets interested in endless things and doesn't just try them out, she excels in what she does. So when she signed up for the 'Facebook 14', I was more than a little intimidated. 

I found a 'kit' of coordinating fabrics with an idea for a project. And while I am working on it, I know she reads this blog, and I would like what I am making for her to be a surprise, so do not want to take pictures of it until she has it in hand.

My Great-Nieces got their quilts with a Saturday delivery, and so I did post the photos. The grrlie-grrls were not expecting quilts, but I understand it is snowing up storms in Minnesota lately, and feels like 17 degrees Fahrenheit, so quilts will come in handy and warm their beds.

Meanwhile, the last block of the BOM was released today. It is called a 'Gaggle of Pinwheels' and is busy enough to make my head spin. I have yet to finish another one of them that has those HST or Half Square Triangles. I am not fond of how much work they take. This one is scary! I have half a mind to make a 'Dresden Plate' block as a substitute. I keep thinking I want to make this quilt larger by adding more blocks to push it from 12 blocks to 16. Still thinking on that. It needs to be finished when I fly back to MN in early June. I cannot wait around trying to decide but have to pull out all that fabric and take some measures to see if there is enough to do what I want with it. AND it will need backing fabric.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

PT 2, Saturday

(This didn't get onto Saturday's post, so I am reposting as a second part) I spent time joining flannel scraps together. Larger ones, not the small pieces. It is a WOF (width of fabric) with the length that measures 5 1/2 yards. There are still leftover pieces that I can add once I figure out what is needed. My plan is to back one of the Facebook projects, so it can get cut and joined again and again to fit. It made me feel accomplished to find a way to use the scraps with a purpose.

Sometimes when I think of the cycle of giving that happened for me with all this fabric, I realize that its the same whenever we share our resources or time. Sharing became a part of my life long ago and seems natural to me now. Yet I know that it isn't always like that for others.

Hoarding is natural too. Whether we hold on to things because of something that happened in this life or a previous life, some of us need everything we have gathered or received. Sometimes even when a person gives away their goods, they stay invested in how things are used or spent.

I think it is key to give with joy, and then to release whatever went out from us.


Back to multi-tasking, the three projects were taken to their next steps. It seemed unnatural for me to force myself into a behavior that was uncomfortable. I tried to be singularly focused. It just didn't work for me. I didn't want to pile on guilt and shame about it, so just smiled and went back to the art of multi-tasking. Not everyone can do and I do it well.

I finished the back of that very cute and bright grrlie-grrl quilt I plan to donate to a fundraiser whenever it is needed. Over time, the cuts I made from scraps included the 5" strips called 'Dessert Rolls" that I made. I pulled out all the pastels, lights and a few brights and just started piecing them in a random way. I can make myself crazy if I try to make the scrappy look planned. Sometimes I do it. 

The next project I worked on was a Heart wallhanging for Autumn. Of course it needs a couple more borders to finish the top, but this is the most difficult part of it and is completed. Again, lots of scraps or leftovers here, placed together to make a lovely piece as either a wallhanging or a large table topper.

The last of the trio of projects to be completed are charm squares (5") as part of a quilt. Again, this part is the most time intensive for the quilt. Again, I pulled out the 70-something squares I needed and simply tried to have some sort of contrast as they got pieced in rows. Then, the next step in contrast was joining the rows for contrast.

Friday, January 22, 2016

No Pictures=Didn't Happen

That was one of the 'rules' to the 12 Days of Christmas Swap I was in last year. I really try to remember to take them, but today in my haste to get the two birthday projects completed, I didn't take photos of either of them. And they are great and easy birthday gifts!

One of them was patterned after a kid's school project with a leaning toward paper prayer flags. I made mine with glue and two sides to each cutout. There were also 7 hearts to make it 9 shapes including the two hands. AND in the package, I didn't tell my Son what it was. I got a card off to him with a note in it. He told me he wanted me to send my love; no gifts. Oppps.

The other one is a very cute way to use up the buttons in my collection. I learned a lot about what NOT to do. It needs a stronger wire to weave these buttons, and its best to put the face on last. I ended up with the two wires making two loops. But it turned out cute. These will go in all the bday cards for the kids in my family.

Then last night, I pinned and pinned. Today, I pieced it all. I think there are at least three different quilt projects. Next, I need to unpin, press, pin again and then piece the next round. Its a process that takes time and is almost not photo worthy. I took this one for practice.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Closet Shopping Spree

Colored storage bins hide the contents even if the bin is labeled. The only way to see what is actually in them is to take them out of the closet and go through them. Again. 

What I found were all the 'kits' I had made some months ago. Until I start cutting to take them all to that next stage, fabric in the 'kit' means it is dedicated to that project, and not available for use elsewhere for the time being. I pulled out scraps of muslin and of flannel. I started joining muslin for wallhanging backs and flannel for the Autumn quilt. That almost frees up one bin once I can make use of it on the backs of something.

And then there is cutting of the scraps I made myself. It seems like such an endless task, yet is one that must be done. As I work on projects, I try to cut the leftovers into my square sizes (2.5", 3", 4", 5", 6", 8" and various strip sizes) and toss them into a small box. When the box is full-up, then I cut. All these pieces will be put into their smaller bins and wait until something I want calls for them. I am starting to envision them as backs to some of the projects.

My friend Amy asked for the leftover fabric so she could add a sleeve to the piece I sent her. She said it might seem silly to have the same fabric for the sleeve because she was the only one who would see it. Yet, I get how she was thinking. She DID know what it looked like and needed it to be as wonderful in back as it was in front.

It is hard for me to just sort fabric without making a 'kit' and having a plan for it. Not only is it practical, it also provides any other person who needs to go through my stuff have an idea how to use it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pet Bed

Well, the pet bed wasn't all I worked on, but it did get finished. The fabric I found is pink with hearts on it. Pets become our familiars quite easily. They are there to listen to us and love us no matter how we feel. I hope the fundraiser can make a nice profit from it.

What I like about making these is being able to use up even the slightest cuts of fabric that would otherwise get tossed in the trash. Not really a pink kinda person, it will go to the craft sale part of the fundraiser for the Humane Society on 2/13/16, so is a perfect fabric for the day. I still had more of the slight cuts and not enough for a second one. They are pretty quick to make so maybe there will be enough for another one before the sale.

Then I worked on various projects by adding borders with the same red thread in the bobbin. I love the variety in this one and respond quite favorably to the reds in it. The top is done now and needs the back and batting. I might see if I have flannel scraps I could make into a similar pattern for the back.

As I try to shop from my closet, the challenge comes in NOT compromising the beauty of the pieces I want to make. This last one worked better than I thought it would. However, it still needs that back. Another goal I had was to make backing and simply match what I made for each, the top and the backing, to make both the same size. Will that be enough or does the back matter when you are wrapping up in the quilt? I have one bin full of flannel so that is my next project. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sometimes Ya Gotta Bite the Bullet

My quilting shopping list had grown long. Top on it was a new rotary, followed by a cutting mat, and fabric to finish a couple of projects. I know that there may be leftovers, and that is the way it is. After cutting my finger, I found myself almost dreading the wobbly rotary and think my confidence will be restored by using a new one on a new, unbroken mat.

I am a fan of red. However, I made a mistake getting the red with the smaller white dots. It is just too much for the intended quilt. I wanted white with red dots, looked for white with red dots or red anything, and picked this one up. The red with the larger white dots will be the back on the red/white holiday quilt. The red/white pinstripe seen in the back of this pic will be the binding. This makes the quilt reversible so the holiday part of it can flip to the back.

Now I need to shop again and get the correct one on my list. I need to learn my lesson and not second-quess myself. I could have come home without it. There are always fabric sales and if I wait long enough, another one will come along. This red/white quilt is the last of the family quilts and doesn't need to ship until Thanksgiving week. There will be time to find that white with a red print on it. This is not beating myself up as much as stating a fact of how it works for people purchasing fabric. Mistakes are often made for a variety of reasons. Key for me is finding a purpose for it all.

The multi-print I bought goes perfectly with the little Block-down-Drag-out quilt. I had a bright teal print on my list and this seemed to be as close as I could get. I am very pleased with it. Quite by accident, the red with white dot looks great with the little quilt top too! I will add it as a final border, and then try to come up with a back using fabrics in the closet. Not sure what will work, but it needs to be colorful. My plan was to donate it to a family fundraiser. My Daughter-in-Law always has something she supports. This will be a stunning quilt when I am finished. I really lucked out with both prints actually working together.

This week, I was called to help out with the next Humane Society fundraiser, and bought that pink/heart fleece so I could make some pet beds and use up my scrap slices. I got a yard of it for 70% off, so will make a larger one and two small ones with it. I'll help staff the crafts and bake sale the Saturday before Valentine's Day. These little pet beds are easy enough to make and seem to appeal to the little ones. Oh and I get to make cookies for the bake sale!

Its bad enough that I went shopping today and spent a small fortune on things. Scary. I kept telling myself that I was only buying what was on the list and only if it was on sale. I didn't buy everything on my list and walked out of the store blown away by the total cost. 

I won't go back into town until the Spring Easter sale. By that time, the BOM quilt will be ready for its backing. Maybe I can find that white with red print to finish the setting triangles. There is time. There will be more sales.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Monday, January 18, 2016

Flange or Piping

As I worked on the Block-down-drag-out quilt, I struggled to find fabrics from my closet that would work. I realize, in one way, that I have created an obsession to shopping from my closet. In doing that, I renewed my sense of stubbornness. How do I let go of being this committed to a process? I just can't let go. Its impossible to let go. And for crying out loud, the year has only begun! What will it be like as the months carry on and the supply in my closet dwindles?

I have to use what is there first, in spite of the pattern requirements. Right now, I am still looking at fabric after fabric, seeking the piece that will work. Will there be a time when I KNOW where the right one is?

This morning, I cut a 2" border out of hot pink. Several pinks were in the color bag, but only one was just large enough and that was barely large enough. It was all I had of that fabric, using almost all of the scrap, and put the shavings into the box of scraps for pet beds.

I had some bright yellow cuts left from Grace's backing. A lot of it was less than 1.5" wide and then I got an idea to add a flange or piping to the quilt. I had enough for that by cutting the strips to 1", folding them in half and stitching to the edge with a scant 1/4" seam. With the small border, it adds interest even though it will not add width. Like the hot pink, there were only shavings left. And now, it waits until I can shop for a yard of something grrrlie-grrl in a bright teal print.

I worked on one of the FB projects. This one for Beltane which is May Day, so its all about flowers. Each pinwheel is a floral print and only shows up once, except for the white tone on tone floral for the background and first border. The last border is a floral too so this piece becomes a true May Day celebration even in its intensity.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Ready for Shipping

Although everything is closed around here on Monday, including the PO, I got the three quilts checked out for loose threads, and pre-washed the last two I put together with some COLOR CATCHER. I don't know what the laundry habits are for the kids and want to give their quilts a fighting chance to stay true to color.

Quilt patterns can often be different sizes and these three are. This first one goes to the eldest of the three grrrlie-grrls and is the largest. Its all by chance. No planning. Just turned out that way. 

While I added the binding, it was over my lap for a couple of nights and almost formed a tent fort. I loved it. I have heard that she is always cold and this cotton quilt will be nice.

The second one is square. It is smaller than the first and really quite different. The flannel back makes it cozy, and it is also tied, with a bit of machine top stitching on top only. 

What a difference the seasons make. Spring above is light. Autumn or Fall is more intense. While it is smaller, it still makes a nice personal lap or nap quilt and will be just as cherished as the larger quilt.

And third is a Summer log cabin lap or nap size quilt for the youngest of the three. Its dark blue on the back, so if she wants to drag it outside as a play mat, or beach blanket, she can and it will be ok. It also was pre-washed so those reds and blues didn't make the whites turn any other color. 

Now I need to write the letters and it will most likely take me the next day or so to get them done.

I do plan to go to the big city on Monday to for some shopping and to use up one of my gift cards eating out. No sense hanging around town when everyone hibernates!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Quilts for the Great-Nieces

Someone once told me that when you plan to make siblings quilts to give them all at once. This logic made sense to me. Most of the time, there are two siblings in my family units. Yet, some families have three and these Great-Nieces have that number. So its taken me awhile to finish all three and now all I need to do is write letters to go with the quilts, wrap them and off they go.

Oh wait. Before they get wrapped, I need to check all the seams, cut loose threads and take photos. Yes.

I have been thinking that I put energy into the quilts I make for the people who will receive them. I am wondering now, if I pick up their energy. I have also been thinking that I wanted to stay singularly focused by doing one project from start to finish rather than multi-tasking. I discovered, this week, that it doesn't work for me.

There were three projects going at the same time. One of them is the Lil Twister Heart wallhanging. This one is for Beltane/May Day. I gathered 5" charms that had Springy-floral patterns and used a floral tone-on-tone white for the background and first border. The plan is for a purple second border and then a final focus print with purple binding. Not sure yet if that will happen.

The time it takes for this project is first to join the blocks, and then to use the Lil Twister plastic template to cut the pinwheel shapes. Here they are cut and pinned, so ready to piece. I am quite aware that people still think a quilt of any size needs to match their sofa or wall colors. Fabric art is supposed to be enjoyed no matter if it fits in or stands out.

I was also machine quilting a larger quilt that will take a lot more time. It is a scrap quilt that I started YEARS ago and had it to this final step. I got maybe 1/8 of it quilted. It will be one of the projects I send from the FB list of 14. I did say that I had either quilts, wallhangings, table toppers, and mug rugs. So with this large group of sister-friend-siblings, I plan to ship finished projects off when they are done, and they will get what they get. The bromide of giving equally will not apply.

And it is hard to go against a belief, even when it is about quilts and the people who receive them.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Scraps to Treasures

I thought about the term 'rags to riches' and don't consider the fabric scraps I have as rags, so thought about what I meant until 'Scraps to Treasures' came to me and seemed more appropriate.

I finished the top and back for the second of the book-panel-to-quilts. And of course, it makes me laugh to know that when I shop from my closet, sometimes, what will show up for a quilt will be something a bit interesting. I didn't have fabric set in the bag for the border and found this stripe that does actually work but wouldn't have been a choice for a baby comforter. After I finish both of these, and sometime toward the end of Summer, they will be donated to the women's shelter in Bakersfield. I cannot wait for new babies in my family to give these, and want to move them along to someone who can use them now. I just do not want to store things here. It almost seems like hoarding.

I shifted shift a few storage bins around; first to contain quilt projects that are as complete as they can be and only need batting next; and second, those projects that can be worked on before buying something more. I haven't figured out how often it will be that I go shopping so that these 'almost finished' projects can be done. 

It is like an entire lesson in releasing and letting go. There is one bin that contains those 'more-to-do' projects that I want to deal with first. One thing that helped me this year is agreeing to do projects for those 14 Facebook Friends. One of the local women traded me a vial of essential oil for a wallhanging, so that added to my to-do list.

Sending things out is part of the process, and if I don't send out when finished, like I said, it almost seems like more hoarding. I have a friend who puts together so many quilts she gives to those in need (about 30 each year!) and she says the same thing about having stash. It seems to grow without her knowing why or how.

Well, one has to keep at it. I worked on the binding for Grace's Spring and have more to go on it. I loaded bobbins with a blue in order to machine quilt the next one going out.
Scraps to Treasures. Scraps to Treasures.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I Don't Wanna

Jeeze, I found myself whining these words of 'I don't wanna' as if someone were making me do my work. Pulling out the 'kits' and taking them another step is tedious. It is difficult to generate creative energy to pick something up that is unfinished and sat for too long, yet the goal for all of them is to take them to having at least the top finished or with the back. What is left to do is basting the batting to make the quilt sandwich. Why they were left unfinished varies from not having enough of the right color fabric to simply being confused as to how to read the pattern correctly.

I've set in place a huge goal for myself, one that seemed simple at the time, and is now forcing me to evolve. I won't say grow up, because it is not like that. I WANT to finish what I started last year, or several years ago. I WANT to move these projects along.

I re-organized by color again because it seemed that I didn't have pastels. Well, I do have some. Not a lot, but some. Now that there is a shopping list, pastels and other tone on tone fabrics will be on it.

Although the Winter Solstice holidays are over for now, and there are no babies planned in our family, I pulled out the two 'book-panel-to-quilt' projects. One of them is ready for batting and this second one still needed to be put together. I made holiday comforters for my Grandbabies long ago for their first Winter Solstice. And although none of them are ready to bring babies into the world, it doesn't take much to get started. I figure that as I age, it is a better plan to have some baby comforters ready to finish than it is to make them from the very start. And if I make them easy to finish, even the new Mommy could finish what I started if I can't.

As I worked on joining the bright squares and adding those rows to the book panels, my spirits raised. These two quilts are going to be fun. Suddenly, I was out of the blue fabric and went back into my stash to find a couple of larger squares that were cut to the needed size. It just needs to be assembled and the top will be finished.

All that resistance is gone now that I see it come together, and I am quite inspired to finish the 'kits'.

Cleaning up my stash is a way for me to find balance as a quilter. It is a way for me to quilt and to give with more joy. One of my values concerns the environment, and so using what I have makes sense. It also seems like it is a way for me to open to the Universe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking Inward

I found myself looking inward as I quilted today. Taking this particular action means learning how to fix one's self rather than trying to fix anyone else.

The pic taken of the red & white quilt is in morning sunshine on my floor in front of Eastern windows. It didn't take much to lay the white prints down alternating with the reds. I pinned, then pieced it and put it away until I go shopping. It seems like a white fabric with red dots would work for the setting triangles and maybe enough for the back. This will be the last quilt made for a family member until more babies or adults join.

I worked to finish the machine quilting on Grace's Spring quilt. These little Great-Nieces are part of my Mother line. I am the eldest of my generation and they are the ones to carry it on, or at least it falls to Grace as the eldest. In a lot of cultures and traditions, the eldest female in a family is considered the Matriarch. I didn't want the job. My Mother still lives as the eldest of her generation, and in her state of advancing dementia, she doesn't want the job.

So here I am working on this quilt for the eldest female of her generation. The binding is clipped so I can hand sew it. Usually it takes me a night or two to finish after the binding is machine sewn on and then clipped. 

I paid a full price on that focus print to have both the pink and yellow on it and I am so glad I did. There was very little left, perhaps a small square or two, and nothing much left of the yellow with white dots used for the back. I have gotten very good at calculating how much I need and tend not to buy that extra yardage that a lot of quilters purchase to build their stash. For me, stash-building is not something I want to do.

And I am becoming rather singularly focused in finishing a quilt or at least going as far as I can with it. That is a huge difference in how I am working. It will be interesting to see if I can actually change my behavior in favor of organization.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Can It Be Spring?

I have a cardboard box left from a holiday delivery sitting next to my fireplace that will hold all three quilts meant for my Great-Nieces. The quilts are not Winter Solstice gifts nor for their birthdays. Sometimes I think that the best lesson my family quilts has taught me is one in letting go.

It isn't always about letting go of a person, but it is that too. It can be more about letting go of expectations or dreams, or letting go of attitudes.

As I basted the elder Great-Niece's quilt, the challenge it presented me was that the tape holding the back kept lifting. When I put the batting on, the entire back broke free of the tape and everything had to be smoothed out over and over again. It would have been so much easier if another person was in the room to help hold down the bottom and batting, yet, the situation had me walking around each side to tug the back into place, and then needing to walk around to the opposite side to tug it from that way. Obviously, there was no controlling the situation and I had to make due with what I had both in resources and skills.

Like this little Grrrl who lost her Mommy a few years ago, the work challenged me, and will challenge her in ways she may or may not see as she grows up.

I plan to machine quilt it using a diagonal grid and have the same dark pink used for that first border that will go onto the binding. Its going to be a nice piece when finished.

After running errands in town, I came home and did more piecing on one of my 'kit' projects. There is one more row of blocks to add, and then a couple of borders. I told my Daughter-in-Law that I would give her a quilt if she needed something for a fundraiser. This one is quite colorful and perfect for a younger Grrrl. Hopefully, I can shop from my closet for the borders and finish it.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Surprise, Surprise

When I pulled out one of my 'kits', there was a surprise waiting for me. I wondered if this would be the case with all or most of them. Surprises come however they do.

The pattern was there, with check marks as I had cut and pieced the first steps. Of course, I had not written myself any instructions and so spent a fair amount of time figuring out what the plan had been. This one was easy. In a colored plastic bag inside the clear plastic bag, there were several pieces of fabric, all of which coordinate and some of which had cuts taken from them. I don't know where I got them.

I pinned the other squares that had been cut, some of them pieced into either 9-patch or 4-patch blocks, with other squares cut to the size for the pattern. These pieces are in pastels and look like they were meant for a young grrrlie-grrrl. The pieces above that had been in the other bag look more like they belong to a quilt for an adult. AND they might work with the Twister projects I am working on. I started cutting some of the more scrappy pieces. There are some good size lengths so until I know what I will do with those, they stay uncut.

I finished another BOM for Landi's Graduation quilt and added the frame around it. I am really loving it. The previous Block is unfinished and there is one more to go with this group before it gets assembled. Because the blocks are all so different, I am thinking it will work best if it gets hand quilted.

And while I laid out the red blocks on the floor to see if I liked the diagonal layout, I didn't take a picture of it. I like it and pre-washed the background prints. It is obvious that I will not have enough of the background fabrics to create the setting triangles. It is a totally different quilt from the one I started. I plan to go as far as I can with all these projects, make a list of what I need to purchase, and write very good notes-to-self on them.

That was my goal. Go through the 'kits' to do as much to get them to that place where I need to buy something more. It means creating a good, good list for what I need. 

I am seeing how hard it is to set something down and return to it. However, this might be hard simply because I had not been vigilant in writing those notes-to-self as I plan to be.

When I look at my closets, it seems that they are loaded floor to ceiling in there. At least the doors still slide closed. I wonder if I took on too big a task to quilt in this way. If I don't use the fabric, what would be my other choice? Keep buying? Keep storing more and more?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pulling Out The Kits

When I use the word 'kit', what I mean is that I have pulled out a pattern that I want to use for a quilt, and then gathered fabrics from the closet bins and have them at the ready to do the work. Several years ago, I started gathering reds, whites, and blues for two quilts. One I made and is already elsewhere. The second one was supposed to be a pineapple quilt pattern. As my habit existed back then, I didn't follow the pattern and ended up with red squares with only one white small piece in the centers. I set it aside and felt a deep dissatisfaction with my lack of attention.

There is a new adult member in my family, and so when I asked her for her favorite color and holidays, she said red and her birthday first and Winter Solstice next. 

I pulled out this red package and took a new look at it. I found a new pattern idea, one that I could adapt with the blocks on hand that were already made, and considered how to convert it. The first thing I needed to do was to trim those red blocks to the same size and then go forward with the plan.

Before I cut the white with red prints, I want to lay the blocks out to see if indeed they will work with this pattern. It calls for them on the diagonal, which might be just fine with that center red on white. I need to take a photo of how it looks and then think on it awhile.

Its quite overcast here again and very damp outside. This creates an energy inside that makes a person want to curl up in bed and sleep. That goes against my values of always being productive. Even here on the blog, I feel like I have fallen down on my job if I don't write every day, and I haven't been writing every day because I haven't been quilting every day. Fears set in when I am less productive. They may be irrational, but they are real for me.

Tomorrow is a very busy day starting with basting Grace's Spring quilt, then keeping 2 other appointments, and doing a little in-town shopping. 

I know I will keep up with making the 'kits' as I finish one after another. What I do see is that even with the notes-to-self, sometimes getting back to something after time has passed means that it takes time to read everything, get clear in my head about what I want to do, and then start it. I don't think we can set things aside and just step back in with the same energy, enthusiasm and intention. Returning to a project is work. No getting around that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Intermediate Quiltmaker

According to the quilting genre, an intermediate quiltmaker is a person who can take a pattern and change the fabric suggestions and colors or the pattern itself and make it her own creation. That's an interesting concept because, in my opinion, or education system creates a culture of folks who do what they are told and follow the rules without question. 

Those of us who live this out do so until the end of our days. Some of us do not, in spite of the risks of failure, and in spite of the risk of succeeding. Its like that prayer flag I just made that said, "Why fit in? You were born to stand out!"

If I want to use fabric scraps from my stash, I run the huge risk that what I envision will not work. I have been working with the Twisted Heart pattern and my 3 templates. I want to come up with a season and colors my friends requested, based on fabrics I have so I can USE what I have. This first one (made with 3.5" squares) is in Fall colors with purple. After laying the center on several fabrics to audition them for the border, I settled on the same one used for the background squares. I might take some sort of fall print to do the binding just to tie it in. It might end up at about 18" square that would be fine for either a candle mat or small table topper. I'll add the border to it and call it done for now. 

Primarily, why I worked on them now was to see IF it would work with the color options as well as to see if I had enough scraps. I've sorted the 5" squares for the next size up, and need to see about borders.

Friday, January 8, 2016

OMGoddess! Scraps

Because three of the 14 of my Facebook friends suggested their favorite holiday was those of the Harvest festivals in Fall, I spent several hours with every piece of Fall fabric, cutting them into usable squares for the 3 Twister template sizes: 3.5"--5"--and 10". And meanwhile, it made sense to cut the 2.5"--3"--4"--6"and--8".

I am thinking that I need to spend time joining those pieces that will be just blocks. However, I admit that just cutting was exhausting, with all the standing, measuring, and making sure the rotary didn't slip and cut ME.

My finger is healed, the nail growing and the nerve endings settled into how they will serve. I still bump it and jump back. But I am quite aware of the rotary.

And I finished the Maiden Prayer Flag. Now that I see a pic of it, I did something grrrlie-grrl over those 3 strips of ribbon. A bow. It took me awhile to reflect on my own Maidenhood, that time before puberty. Its all about self-discovery, wanting to stay in the home nest and longing to grow up. I think the best thing I ever taught myself was to stand out rather than fit in. Its not an easy place to be, and I know I value this concept today. "Why fit in? You were born to stand out!"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Shopping From the Closet

Its not as easy as one would think to shop their own closet first. After awhile, the fabric gets to be so familiar that to come up with an idea for a quilt is like re-purposing. Most of what I have was given to me by a number of people. Lot of it is scrap left-overs from projects they did. I appreciate every piece of it, and because it isn't the same line or even season, it takes work to coordinate what is there.

I am not sure where I got the piano fabric. It might be enough to do a back or at least the center of the back with a border. There is a black fabric with a note saying it is Amish and that came from my friend Virginia. Some of the pieces I've had and have used, some are FQ's I bought at an estate sale here in town. Putting it together is the first step in making it. Now, this is a kit.

I want to use the larger Twister template to do the same heart pattern I have been using for the mini quilts. I've made a few table toppers, and one 35" square wall hanging. This template might make the same pattern go about 66" square. I've tried calculating it but just need to make one and then keep track of the sizing. If it works, then I can go through the scraps here with ease.

The larger quilts represent a bit more work for me when it comes to the stage of quilting. These Facebook friends said they would be open to receive whatever I chose to make and send. The first one will ship on Saturday, so it will be interesting to hear her response to it.

Gathering the pattern and fabrics, making notes-to-self are all part of being organized and create a purpose to the re-purposing. Even though I have pulled a few of these projects together, I can see how much fabric I still have that is not dedicated to projects for this year. And I know that there will be scraps left. Three of my friends requested Fall or T-day colors. Everything I have for that season is culled out of the bins. I haven't 'kitted' them all yet.

I have a huge container filled with orphan blocks and left-over pieces and strips that I want to make into what I am calling a Gypsy Orphan quilt. Someday, I will need to sit down and spread everything out and see how it fits together. I have an idea, but only that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Repeat / No Pic

I finished one of the table toppers that is like the ones I did earlier. Those pictures are posted. The only thing different is the backing. I am going to shop from my closet and will put fabrics on the back that I might not want to use on the front. This one is going out by the end of the week.

So what can I post as pictures?

I spent a fair amount of time taking down lights and the simple holiday decor I put up this year. However, the bin is nothing to photograph. I always think I will wash them before putting them back in the shed. And even clean out the shed! Its been sleeting / snowing the last few hours, and is melting now, so I am not inspired to do much outdoors.

One of my friends told me she thought my quilting was evolving. I am not sure of that. I still struggle with the machine operations. It was clunking up a storm and no matter what I did to ease the noise, it just kept up.  Then one of my mitered corners turned out so crappy. I've been told that we never reveal our mistakes in quilting and just do our best. I try.