Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oh My, What a Mess!

          Oh my goodness! I have worked myself into quite a mess right now! It happens every time I dig into the scrap bucket. I have 4 different projects going right now--there's a pile on the sewing table, the cutting table, and the pressing pile, not to mention all the stuff on the floor. The fabric storage bins are all over the place cuz I have dug into all of them. I like to sew and sew until I finish something and then I clean up the mess. (Or I clean up if "company" is coming!) I better not start something else or I won't be able to get in the room! PROGRESS: 19 X marks the Spot blocks completed (out of 48)
                Wacky log cabin blocks almost ready to put together, just a couple rounds to go
                 Floral log cabin blocks just need squared up and put together
                 Floral Barn Raising needs horizontal seams finished and borders put on
                     Floral Zig Zag 9-Patch needs borders (no idea what to do here)
Based on this list the mess will be with me another week or so!
         Funny thing is--when I scrapbook I make it a rule to clean up after page or page spread because I don't want to duplicate embellishments, papers, scissors, punches, whatever. I start new on each one. Works for me!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Beware of the Galloping Horse

        Today I worked some more on the X marks the spot, where anything goes as far as fabrics go. Whenever I get tired of the fabrics in the pile I dig deeper into the scraps. I even opened the blues tote and dug out some blues for variety. On this one I just mix it up with color, pattern and strip size and try not to make any combinations that are distracting or "galloping horses".
       I also did another pink round on the wacky log cabin and as I was sewing the pink I was looking for possible "galloping horses" in the strippy round. I remembered that on one block I had accidentally put the same fabrics together in a corner and have been debating all week whether to fix it or keep going and see if it became less visible. Well, I looked at each block and can't find the spot so it must be OK and I am leaving it.
       So what is a "galloping horse" you ask? I wish I could remember who the expression came from but I took it and shared it with every class I ever taught. (I got it from a lecture at a Quilter's Gathering in Westford one year and that is all I can remember and if anyone knows who it came from I would love to give credit). What it means is "don't sweat the small stuff". A lot of quilters obsess over every seam and fabric and color choice and use that darn seam ripper way too much. Unless you are making something to be judged, do you need to be perfect? If a man on a galloping horse can see it, it MUST be fixed! Take care of that "galloping horse" ASAP. So stand back, walk by, take a picture or look at it from a distance and if nothing catches your eye as out of place or distracting then you are good.
This is the beginner sampler that I
scorched right in the middle sashing
       An example:  When I was teaching a beginner sampler class I accidentally scorched a piece of sashing right in the middle of the class sample. I decided to leave it as an example for the class (2 lessons--don't scorch! and here's a galloping horse right here!). Let me say that as soon as I finished the last class and was ready to quilt the top I replaced that piece immediately and this is the finished wall hanging, minus scorch.
      So please don't be too hard on yourself when you are quilting. Watch for galloping horses and let the other stuff stay put and allow yourself to move on to new and exciting quilting!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sometimes a new toy can be very motivational!

      I decided to make the strippy X Marks the Spot from the Fabric Therapy blog that I highlighted last time. I have been sewing strips and chunks and scraps for a couple days now and so far have completed 8 blocks. I started sewing the center pieces and realized that the blogger was right--you need a square ruler to make it easier to finish so I headed off to Joanne and used my coupon and got a 8 1/2" square ruler and now I wonder how I survived all this time without it. I have so many other ideas for things to do using it! I have been digging into the scrap bucket and all the strip boxes. One thing I have noticed is that there is no blue! I did 3 different scrappy quilts in the last couple years using blues so all the blues are missing from each box! Guess it is time to start cutting again!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Other Quilters Are so Inspirational

     Yesterday I checked out a new blog ( I do not promise this link will work--I don't know what I am doing, so please let me me know if you saw it!) First of all this person is CRAZY ORGANIZED! And she is obviously a very good quilt teacher. I urge everyone to check out this blog. I'm following it now and haven't had time to read everything. She writes a LOT. I have highlighted the project I couldn't resist trying since I have an endless supply of scraps. I actually spent an hour today on something other than florals and it was a nice change of pace. Now I have a stack of trimming up to do on three projects. But that is the way I work best. I like to have lots of projects going at once and then I get to the point of finishing them up and it is exciting for me.
      Just a side question--Do you have a part of a project that you do not enjoy doing? I really don't like sewing on borders at all. When the project gets large I have to force myself sometimes to get the thing done. I have this imaginary "Quilt World" in my head where a quilting partner loves to do the things I don't and we can work together as a team. But then I always decide I can't give up that much control and just have to suck it up and do it myself. It always helps to work with friends or at least have something good to watch or listen to to distract myself. Right now that is Doctor Who and The Colony. Almost done though, and then I have to find some other series to get into. Suggestions?
     Anyway, check out the Fabric Therapy blog and be inspired!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quilters are the Best!

        I was reminded today of how special quilters are and how welcoming and friendly quilt shops are. Emma and I are in the process of getting her ready for prom in 2 weeks. Dress has arrived from China and is beautiful and is off to the dry cleaners to be professionally pressed (3 skirts--too much for me!!), red high heels are purchased, hair has been consulted on, and all she needs now is a nice necklace. So we visited a bead shop here in town to see if they had anything or to get inspiration. We were in this little store for 5 minutes and NO ONE acknowledged us at all. Needless to say I will never go there again. When we left I said, "That would never happen at a quilt shop". 
        When I got home in the quilt room I managed to make another round on the wacky log cabin. I think I like it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Things I Can't Live Without

     I wanted to sew so badly today but it was just TOO HOT! It was almost 90 today! My sewing room doesn't have overhead light so all the light comes from incandescent lamps. After a while the heat from the lamps and the iron make it quite warm (in the winter it was the best room in the house, but now...yikes) I did get one round of the wacky log cabins done so that was good and I found myself noticing all the tools I just can't live without. The rotary cutter has a new sharp blade, the table is covered with a cutting board, the rulers are filed in their file boxes, the Bernina just keeps keeping on. But in addition to those basics I find myself relying on things like a clothing lint brush for cleaning off the ironing board and cutting board, a "garbage bowl" (thanks Rachael Ray for that idea) on the counter, plastic shoe boxes to keep things organized, my Quilters Rule square up rulers in 2 sizes and colors which I use all the time, wipes and paper towels for cleanups (I also scrapbook in there), power strips to keep everything going (and which I can just step on to turn off the lights & machine). Having a set up sewing room is a wonderful luxury and it is my little sanctuary.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Waste Not Want Not"

Rochelle's Purples
   The last couple days I got obsessed with Floral Quilt #6. I still have lots of strips and pieces of florals so I decided to make another quilt in the same technique as the one I am now using as my Facebook picture, "Rochelle's Purples".  So I have been obsessively sewing together lots of strips in various widths which are then cut into other strips and made into a wacky shaped log cabin alternating w/ another fabric. In this case I found a dusty pink so that is what I am going with. 
     Pulling together all the fabrics was as simple as going to my strip collections. My friends can vouch for the fact that I do not throw fabric away. Leftover fabrics are either cut into strips of various widths, squares, or half square triangles or they go in the scrap bucket. I have plastic boxes of each size and shape all piled up and ready to go. Yesterday I pulled out everything that would work and started sewing and today I got the first round of the block done. 
     I save all my scraps and nothing goes into the trash unless it is too small to make a 1" strip or 1 1/2 " square. Needless to say sometimes it takes a while to fill the trash!
I Spy Crazy Quilt
     A couple summers ago I challenged myself to make as many "I Spy" crazy quilt blocks as I could using JUST the fabric in the scrap bucket. This is one of my favorite blocks to do and I did it all summer long until I just had to move on. When I quit I thought I should count how many blocks I had and I had 99 1/2! Yes, a half! One almost finished block ended up in the pile and had to be finished. Oh, I should mention that the scrap bucket is still full--but I can put the lid on it now!!
       I have so much fabric that I will never use it all up so that is why I have been making so many quilts and tops for charity.  It is a fun challenge with a payoff at the end--everybody wins!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quilt Memories

Great Grandma Larson's Quilt
       There are so many memories attached to the quilts I make and own. The first quilt I had was one that my Great
Grandma pieced and my Grandma machine quilted way back when I was about 12.  They also made a doll size one for me. Whenever I look at the crooked mismatched pieces I can see Grandma and Aunt Hazel sitting in their tiny living room in their side by side chairs. Hazel was pulling scraps from a paper bag and cutting pieces  with scissors which she piled on the end table between them. Hazel couldn't see very well and had a paper template so the pieces were not too precise! Grandma then stitched them together by hand--color didn't seem to matter much. My quilt has pieces from my bathrobe and my cousin Connie's and my Easter dresses, my brothers' flannel pajamas. My Grandma used cotton batting and a white fabric on the back. I have studied textiles, shopped fabric stores for years and sewn forever and I still cannot identify what type of fabric it is. It is just so soft! It is one of my prized possessions and is the one I still choose to snuggle under.
      I always sew with either music playing or a video. I have never had "live TV" in the sewing room. Over time the music has gone from cassette, to CD to Ipod to ITunes on the laptop or Kindle. I still record my favorite shows on VHS and watch them while I sew. I couldn't begin to imagine how many episodes of Regis I've watched while quilting! I have quilts that remind me of a certain Mary Chapin Carpenter CD, or Regis, or Ellen. The ones I am doing now will always be my Doctor Who quilts because I have watched 6 seasons of Doctor Who this winter while sewing! A couple of them remind me of a World Series or playoff game I watched while sewing binding.
      Some quilts remind me of the shopping trips and quilt shops and shows where I got the fabrics or learned a new technique. They remind me of the friends who shopped with me or gave me the fabric scraps. Some of the fabrics even release a scent when they are ironed and I am taken back to a day when a soup or stew or something yummy was cooking.
     When I give a quilt to someone I hope they make their own memories around the quilt and hopefully remember the person who made it with love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My first blog!

     My first blog post--where do you start? I guess I will start at the present and move backwards and forwards from here. After making lots of quilts and giving most of them away I was finally talked into making something and trying to sell it on Etsy. I don't know about other quilters but I have to stick to my intention when making something. If I make it for myself I can not give it away. If it is intended as a gift for someone that is where it has to go. I have made probably 60 quilts and tops for charity and as long as that is the intention I am very happy to give them away. (I do take a picture and put it in my quilt gallery, however!). So if I am going to sell something it has to be made for that purpose.
     The idea I landed on was to use my florals. I had all my 2" squares of watercolor fabrics still sitting around (lots of them!!) and I had previously made border units for charity quilts which I had left over. I made a floral log cabin with a chain of dusty rose going through it. I also started making other blocks with the watercolor squares so it is quilt #2. Then I kept going and made 9-patch blocks with the squares and they are going to be the center of log cabin blocks so that is quilt #3. Quilt #4 is a Zig Zag pattern with the 9-patch blocks and I am almost done using up the squares!  It's a series! I really enjoy making the border units and hopefully I have enough for all 3 quilts. 
     I look forward to posting pictures of these quilts as they are finished and sharing my thoughts and experiences while making them.