Sunday, March 12, 2017

March and hopeful for Stella!

Yesterday morning I awoke from a nightmare around 4 am - I'd gone away for the weekend and someone had broken into my home and stolen all my electronics, even my KitchenAid appliances.  But once I determined that my quilts and fabric stash were untouched, I felt very lucky!

March is here, we have hopes for a big blizzard this week thanks to Winter Storm Stella (which means staying home to sew time), and testing for Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 15 is complete.  Quiltmaker sent me a gorgeous package as way of thanks and I've already volunteered for Volume 16!
It took me a couple of weeks to sort through my stash of scraps to continue work on the Fiesta Tiles block, but I finally did it.  My bin of bits is manageable again, even though my Honey thought it was the end of the world since I was throwing out fabric.  Here are a few of the pieces I came across, wondering why on earth I kept bits so darn small!
I've got quite a few blocks mostly made but will still need to make a bunch more.  This is turning into a celebration quilt looking back on my 25 years of quilting, as I'm finding bits of pretty much every quilt I've ever made (including a lot I never even caught in photographs).


I've been pulling on my math skills to strip piece the black and white segments with the help of Janet Kime's Border Workbook.  It's easier than following the individual cutting instructions for one block in the magazine:
I have a few other things going on as well, including some machine quilting and hand piecing.  I'll post more soon.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A look back at 2016

I promised a review of 2016 since I did virtually no blogging last year.  It was a good sewing year, though.  I worked solely at Jo-Ann Fabrics through the first half of the year, and from July through December worked a temp job at the University of Delaware while still doing a little bit at Jo-Ann on Saturdays.  Since that ended I'm back at Jo-Ann's until the next office job comes along!

I joined the Ladybugs Quilt Guild when I returned to Delaware, and took advantage of my retail work schedule to participate in a few workshops with speakers last winter/spring.  I made a top out of silks with Cheryl Lynch and her Curvalicious ruler.  I have a huge box of silks from a friend of my mother's which I've been thinking about using in quilting, but didn't know how, so the workshop was a great learning experience!
The silks shimmer so nicely with the light.  I have yet to quilt this one but hope to finish it this year.

The next workshop I took was with Debby Kratovil, learning her ModernVortex quilt.  Debby was a designer for a block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 6 which I'd tested years ago and I'd been one who'd tested her block.  I brought my issue of the magazine to the workshop and she signed it for me!  :-)  #quiltingnerd

I did my vortex in lime green and navy (although this picture reads more of a dirty yellow).  It's another UFO on my to-quilt list.

In the spring I also worked on a quick wall hanging for my sewing room.  I'd decorated in mostly shades of blue and needed something to hang behind the denim sofa.  I made this from jelly rolls from one of Kim Brackett's books and had it quilted by Carole of Quilts by Carole.
It was a great test run to find a local long-armer I was happy with, and I can definitely recommend Carole to anyone looking for a pantograph long arm quilter in the area.

I also had Carole finish a top I'd made for my cousin Rhonda.  I gave it to her this past May.  Purple is her favorite color and it's a pattern from Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts which I made with a bunch of scraps.
In June, I finished a quilt in extra-long twin size quilt for my son, who turned 16 while living on campus at the University of Delaware, taking two college courses.  He chose the colors and design, and Carole did the quilting again.


I didn't get as much accomplished in the second half of the year, working two jobs, but I did manage to block test for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks, Volume 14.  They sent me some gorgeous fabric as a thank you, and it went very nicely with other fabrics in my stash.
In the fall, I also came across the opportunity to buy a used mid-arm machine from a woman who was planning a cross-country move and just didn't want to take it with her.  It was still under warranty so I had it serviced before bringing it home and setting it up.  Meet my new addition to my line-up of machines, Tinsley the Babylock Tiara:
Tinsley joins my other two machines: Baron von Quilthausen, my Bernina 930, and Old Sally, my 1930 Singer.  Tinsley came with a stitch regulator and I've been watching a lot of videos to learn how to use her.  The first piece I did was a baby quilt for my store manager, who welcomed her daughter Sophia into the world earlier this month.  It was a bow tie pattern with charm packs of Bunny Hill Designs' Jubilee.
I used rulers to do most of the lines in the bow ties and free motioned the motifs in the white areas.

The mom-to-be loved the quilt and hopefully the baby will love it too as she grows up.

That's about all that I managed to accomplish in 2016.  I'm looking forward to quilting some of these small pieces on Tinsley this year as well as working more from stash and scraps!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Year, New Resolutions

Hello audience, this is your long-lost author.  Well, maybe not many of you are around anymore.  Those who still have me in your feed readers might be surprised to see this post pop up.  I've let my blogging fall by the wayside for a number of reasons ... 1) other social media, like Instagram, gets my posts out there more quickly and with fewer words (and less effort!), 2) a lot of my sewing lately has been block testing for Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks issues, which is confidential until the issue is published, and 3) just life!  Working one or two jobs while still jobhunting full time and dealing with family obligations takes enough time away from sewing, let alone blogging about sewing!

So my new year's resolutions for 2017:

Taming my scraps is first up on my list.  I've been quilting for 25 years now and in the beginning I saved every little bit of every little fabric.  In sorting through these bits and pieces I've found scraps from my very first projects.  I'm tossing anything I'm not sure is 100% quilting cotton and anything too small to use (and it's got to be pretty small to be too small!).  I'm trying to use much of the rest.  I'm also donating some older fabrics I'll just never use.  My husband thinks it's a sign of the end of the world, but the truth is I am running out of room to add to my stash!

I keep a running list of UFOs I'd like to finish and I really want some of these off my shelf.  There are a few I've just lost interest in and I should really donate.  There are a number of smaller tops I need to quilt as well.  So getting some of these from unfinished to finished is on my list this year.

Finally, the third resolution:
I've added my Instagram feed to the right; feel free to follow me there.  But I hope to post to both sites with quilting content much more regularly.  Encouragement helps here so please feel free to comment as moved!

I owe you a look back at the past year so I will do that in my next post; stay tuned.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Get back into the swing

Our move is complete and we're getting settled and have successfully navigated a holiday season.  My husband is in training for a major career change, which fortunately draws a salary.  I'm still searching for a full-time job but am enjoying working part-time at the local Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts store.  Let's face it - cutting fabric all day and discussing sewing projects is not really work!

My first chore was tackling the redesign of some broken, bare-bones muslin Roman shades from Ikea for the guest room (three of them) and my sewing area (two).  The guest room shades were a challenge because I went to Jo-Ann stores in three states before finding enough fabric to finish them, but here they are:

And here is a shot of the sewing room area, where I coordinated the fabric with the valances I'd made ages ago with a yellow and blue floral print:



I've yet to find a local longarm quilter to bring my tops to complete, but I've also resolved to add to the pile of finished tops from started projects.  The first one to be completed was the cover quilt from Pat Speth's "Nickel Quilts" - I added a checkerboard border of 1" finished squares, which, I'm proud to say, turned out perfectly.


Finally, with a bit of my paycheck money, I treated myself to Katja Marek's "The New Hexagon: 52 Blocks to English Paper Piece" and started playing around with her fun little patterns during Winter Storm Jonas (or whatever it was called).  I have a project in mind for these that I haven't shared with ANYONE yet, so stay tuned.  These are addictive!



Next up, finishing another top, and then beginning to piece a large Windows Into My World Pattern from Geta Grama (her Etsy shop link for this is here, with her own picture below).  It's easier than it looks!  I have yet to buy the fabric for it so I'm occupying myself with hexies instead.


More to come in time.  On deck - celebrating National Sewing Day with my new guild, and hopefully hearing whether I'll be fortunate enough to be a block tester for another issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Change, soon?

It's been nearly a year since my last post and that's in part because I've had nothing to say.  I've had all my fabric, quilts and other sewing stuff in storage for about 15 months.  Within the next few days we'll be moving, finally, to a new state, and the movers will deliver it all.  It's exciting because I will finally be able to regain some sanity with setting up a sewing room again, joining a new guild again, and having the peace that being surrounded by my stuff brings me.  But it's frightening because this move is a risk; we still don't have jobs, and we have the banged-up egos that being unemployed for over a year tends to give people.   But I guess this is a little like the orchestra playing as the Titanic went down ... it let the doomed focus on something slightly more pleasant than their impending demise.  So maybe I will be sewing and even posting again before the year is up.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

nothing happening

I'm still kicking, but that's about all I have to say.  We were fortunate to sell our house less than a week after listing it for sale this past summer, but that's where our good luck pretty much ended.  We sold about a third of what we own, put most of the rest in storage, and moved just clothes, food and bare necessities into my dad's house at the end of the summer.  "Bare necessities" includes toiletries, computers, financial documents, and, for me, one sewing machine, a basket of notions, two WIPs and some fabric scraps.

The rest of my sewing room - fabric, books, notions, and every quilt I own - is in a storage unit in North Carolina somewhere, along with all our Christmas decorations, furniture, personal memorabilia, kitchenware, family photos, etc., etc.  I'm far more fortunate than the refugees I see in the middle east fleeing their homelands for safety with only the clothes on their backs, but I do worry that I'll never see my belongings again.

Neither of us has had much luck finding work in the almost seven months since my husband was let go, despite job searching being our full-time jobs during these past three months since the move.  We are grateful to have a free roof over our heads but the stress is leaving us struggling to find hope - rather than fear - in what might come next.  I have little momentum and space to sew, so if life doesn't change for us soon, this blog will probably end up being pretty pointless to maintain.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What to work on when you don't want to work on anything

As mentioned in my previous post, life has been chaotic.  There have been some times that I find myself craving the type of self-care that quilting gives me, but feeling completely overwhelmed in my sewing room.  First of all, there is all sorts of home dec project material laying around waiting for me to pick up again, so going into my sewing room feels like an obligation and not a getaway.  Secondly, even if I manage to ignore it and set it all aside, I just have TOO MANY PROJECTS in various stages of completion and I become absolutely flummoxed as to which one to pick up and work on.  And if I begin something new?  I remember again how much I have in progress when I decide I'm done for a while and want to put it away and have all sorts of project boxes already stuffed full.

It's not relaxing, which is what sewing should be.

Finally I decided to bite the bullet and just do "maintenance" work.  Namely, I decided to trim all the bonus HST units I've set aside from various projects.  Actually, not ALL of them, since there are a lot, but all the ones paired with a white rather than black or another color.  This is what was left after about 650 HSTs:

Now they're all nicely pressed and trimmed and ready for use in a project.  I'm thinking a baskets quilt much like this block from 101 Patchwork Patterns:
A number of these in a variety of colors, set on point like this pattern from Quiltmaker, is what I have in mind.

But first to finish other projects ... assuming I have enough time before another move to do so.