Monday, July 6, 2015

Piggy Bank Challenge Reveal!

Today's the day we get to empty our Piggy Banks (or jar in my case) and participate in Val's 2nd Annual Piggy Bank Challenge Reveal!


This started when Val and her husband both began saving their change and then challenged themselves to see who could save the most.  Val blogged about their competition and encouraged by the response from her readers, opened it up for everyone to join the challenge too.  For quilters, the idea is to use the money saved to buy quilty wish list items although you are not limited to that. 

I was intrigued because my DH and I have kept a jar for years with the idea of saving up our change to put toward vacations: 


As I reported last year, we've never filled the jar since we have often raided it for change for school lunch money, train or bus fare or parking meters.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when the emptied jar yielded a little more than $37 dollars mostly in dimes, nickels and pennies!  So I decided to try again and see how much could be saved this year.

My husband was usually was the one bringing in all the change.  He's a UPS driver and his elderly customers often gave their tips in change.  I mostly shop by debit card and when I do spend cash, I am usually that lady digging in her wallet for exact change to pay the cashier.  So for me, saving change has been about putting the proceeds from our recycling bottle returns into the jar. 

When I went to empty the jar today, I must admit there wasn't much in it!  It was mostly pennies and not so many that I couldn't just count them myself rather than taking them to the Coinstar machine like I did last year. 


Total yield $3.60

I'm not surprised because I haven't noticed DH leaving change on his night stand as much this year and with our oldest son in college and commuting, we'd often hear him raiding the jar in the morning for change because he forgot to fill his Metrocard (electronic fare card) the night before.  However, not to fear because unlike last year we have a backup source:


When I started saving the bottle return money, I found that I often received bills in addition to change.  I didn't want to put them in the jar since it would mean breaking it to get them back out so I put this little jewelry pouch into service for them.  Empting that today:


Total Yield:  $36!!
 
So our total piggy bank savings for this year:  $39.60!  For having actually having paid attention to trying to save, we only beat last year's take by $2.44 but it's still money we wouldn't have had if we hadn't set it aside.  So what's my wish list item?  Today I received instructions for the first block of Turning Twenty's new free mystery BOM.  As part of it they are also selling block kits in Kaffe Fassette fabrics (cut your own or precut)  so this will pay for the first two months kits (for four blocks total).  I'm not sure if I will use the kits to make the BOM or just add the fabric to my Kaffe stash but either way I welcome the additions to the stash I've been collecting for a series of  KF quilts I want to make.  
 
For the next year, I'll still keep the jar although it will be limited to being funded by the bottle returns.  DH is starting training next week to drive tractor trailers.  Hopefully, in the coming months he will be transferred to that division which means he will no longer deliver packages.  If so, it's good-bye to tips but a much less physically strenuous holiday season!
 
So thanks Val for another year of encouraging saving!  Link back at Val's to report your savings container contents or be encouraged by everyone else's savings stories to start your own Piggy Bank!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Get It Done! June Recap, July Goals

Another month has just whirred by!  The commitments are finally all done with the exception of the Community Garden which will continue until the Winter.  Now I'm hoping the rest of the summer can be about focusing on what I want to get done!  It's been a slow crawl back to the machine so there's not much new to report.  But a few things did get done so without futher ado, the review of the June Goals is as follows:
 
 1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts.
  
 
 NOT DONE but with another quilt that also needs layering, I have high hopes for finally getting these done.  
 
2.  Wool/BOMs: Finish stitching the last two month's ornaments and work on the next block for this month. 


NOT DONE and now I'm behind a month because I didn't get to prepare the one for June.   June's stocking will be the last of the stockings and with it done, July means it's time to start work on the mittens.

3. Applique:  Work on and finish Spring Fling so I can hang it for the season before it's over.  Now that Heart & Home is tabled until the Fall, I still need to decide whether I will machine or hand applique this one and whether it will temporarily become my Slow Sunday Stitching project.  


Since Summer started last week, that goal is a bust since this one is NOT DONE.  The question now is whether to still try to work on this or put it away until next year?
 
3.  Hand Work:  I still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" but still need to decide if it will be with "Spring Fling" or finally restarting work on my old Quilt-As-You-Go project.  I also still want  to mount the finished Lincoln/Obama Redwork in the Red, White and Blue room so maybe I can bundle that with the QOV work.

The one's mentioned were NOT DONE, however I did get some work done on this little project:
 
 
 I needed only a little bit of time to hand applique the crow on my little wall hanging. Hopefully this month I can complete the embroidery and prairie points and finish this one up!  Wait!  I guess this also counts as an applique project as well.

4. Gift Quilts: Once again, I still NEED to start work on the baby quilt.


NOT DONE.  This is starting to look like one of those baby quilts that will turn into a toddler quilt before long.

5.  WIP:  Work on Thea's Puzzle, make up quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project.  Again, more Spring season clean-up.


Top (on the design wall; the white is the outer border) and backing (on the table in the picture) are now DONE so now it's on to layering it for quilting.  With regards to the rest, looks like the "Spring Season Clean-Up" will turn into a "Summer Season Spruce-Up"!

6.  Quilts of Valor (aka No Longer A New Project): Fortunately because I had planned to work on QOVs throughout the summer months there's still time to make up for the Memorial Day one and still make one to commemorate Flag Day in June and one for the Fourth of July. 
 
NOT DONE (and no picture since it's still just a stash box for now) and another project I'm worried may never get off the ground.


Once again, for July, the Goals will be much of the same:
 
1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts.  Time to git' 'er done!!
2.  Wool/BOMs:  Finish stitching the April and May ornaments, prep and stitch June's and then start on the mittens for July.  However, I also have another set of pouch ornaments to make so the challenge will be to not only catch up on what I'm behind on but to work on two new ornaments each month until Christmas. 
3. Applique:  To Spring Fling or not to Spring Fing, that is the question.  Right now, I don't kow the answer! 
4.  Hand Work:  I will finish up the little "Crow" wall hanging.  I also still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" but still need to decide with what.  Another "To Be Determined". 
5. Gift Quilts: Yes, still keeping the baby quilt o the agenda.  Actually at this point, I can slate it for a first birthday gift.
6.  WIP:  Quilt Thea's Puzzle and make up the quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project. 
7.  Quilts of Valor:  There's alot of ground to make up on this one.  If I can finish some other stuff maybe I can finally pull these out and make some headway on them.

That's it for me so all that's left is to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July!! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Still Working....

Well, "Thea's Puzzle" is a top!  As figured it was easy to sew up and throughout that process I've begun to think about how I want to quilt it.  But before I can do that there's another task to be completed.....
 
In the picture above, the Kaffe Fassette fabric ("Turkish Delight" in the Grey colorway) laying on top of it is the start of the backing.  The plan right now is for two more side borders in the KF fabric, a border of wedges (which I'll be sewing today) and a center of the same Kona white that is the outer borders on the top.  The binding will be the same inner border fabric used on the top (Joanna Figueroa's  "Fig & Plum" by Moda from a few years ago) and those strips also have to be cut.

I was at Wendy Sheppard's Ivory Spring blog a little while ago and she wrote a post about how she can tell how productive a week she's had by what she's accomplished on her "To Do" list by Wednesday.  I also look at Wednesday as a signifier: what I've gotten done by then tells me if I'll be scrambling over the weekend to try to finish up the work I'd hoped to complete earlier in the week!  This is particularly true this week since I've got a "Get It Done!" recap due next Wednesday!

After getting this backing done, I'm debating between layering for this quilt and the Civil War Samplers or whether to close the month out by catching up on the wool ornaments.  We'll see on those but for right now let me focus on getting this back done and keeping things moving! 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Getting Back To Work - Part 3


Just wanted to get this posted before I have to head out today.  As I've said in my last few posts, I've been working my way back to my quilting.  When I posted earlier in the week, I showed how messy my cutting table was -- definitely an impediment to doing any sewing.  Lori Kennedy over at the Inbox Jaunt did an Open Line blog post on Friday asking quilters to share about whether cleaning their space led to more productivity or new ideas.  I know that when I'm in the midst of a project, the clutter doesn't bother me but when it comes time to start something new or restart my creative mojo (with all due respect to Mark Lipinski), the clean slate can be invigorating!

That said, I've cleared the design wall....

 
...and cleared the cutting table....


....and cleared the sewing table....


....so now what's at bat?


I decided to start with the Thea's Puzzle Quilt since it is simple, improv stitching.  It's a perfect warm-up!  The picture shows the final audition of the placement of the wedges for the blocks.  I sewed them together last night but with DH and I headed out to volunteer at a Father's Day event today, I probably won't get to trim and square up the blocks until tomorrow.  While stitching the wedges together, I also started on another little project that I was able to use as a leader/ender:

 
A long while ago I saw the little heart applique wall hanging (lower right) on eBay.  While I liked it I had no where to display it.  What I did have was a frame about the same size that hung in my living room and needed to be filled.  The simple design inspired me to try to make something inspired by it that could go in the frame.  I found the perfect fabrics in a stash of fabrics I won on Vicky's LA Quilter blog a few years back when she was trying to downsize her stash.  I've been wanting to put together a few projects that highlighted what I received and while I have a few ideas for those projects, this is the first one I've been able to push forward.  Looking forward to doing a little applique and embroidery on this one!
 
A very Happy Father's Day to all! 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Getting Back To Work - Part 2

So I'm trying to get my quilting groove back.  To that end, there are a lot of upcoming Mystery and Quilt-Alongs coming up that I hope I will be inspired to participate in.

Hands Across the Water

The first QAL I heard about was the quilt along that's going on to make Australian designer Jen Kingwell's "My Small World" quilt that's in the Spring special edition of the French publication Quiltmania. 


Lisa Calle of Vintage Modern Quilts (and Texas) is hosting this one.  As soon as I saw this, I so wanted in!  This is just a portion of the quilt -- the finished piece is 33" x 52".  In fact, I knew just the spot for such a quilt:


But there were two problems: one was getting the issue!  I searched my local stores but no one had it.  It was on the Quiltmania site when I first looked it up but after I had scoured the stores, when I went back to their site, it was no longer on the Special Editions page!  I ultimately had to mail order it in all the way from Illinois (with much thanks to Valerie at The Quilt Merchant)!!


Now that it's here, the next problem:  The space I want to put it can accommodate the width but not the height (I have about 22" of usable space) so I'll have to think about how to change the design.  The smallest units are already cut to about 1" x 2" so I doubt that I can go any smaller.  What I might do is eliminate some sky rows and a few of the in between rows to bring the height down (but still keep the skyline in proportion).  I also have room to go wider so might just use what is taken out in the middle and add it to the sides.  Hopefully I can figure it out before the QAL gets too far along.

Quilt Of Valor Mysteries

Next I read that Alycia of Alycia Quilts is doing another QOV QAL called "Starry Night for Josh".  I had bought fabric for the Mystery Quilt she and Vicki Welsh of Field Trips In Fiber did last year and that was at the top of my make-up list for the "Patriot Quilts for the Patriotic Months" plan I had for May, June and July.  I'll probably only get to download the instructions for the new one since I want to use up the QOV stash I've accumulated before buying more and don't think I have the larger cuts in stash that she's calling for in the new design.  I am, however, hoping to absorb inspiration from the current QAL to finish up the old one and finally get some QOVs donated.

"Turning" On A New Mystery

Lastly, I also recently read that Tricia Cribbs of "Turning Twenty" fame is doing her first Mystery!  Needless to say, a Turning Twenty book was definitely part of my starting quilt library yet I've never made one!


I do have a stash of fabric set aside for which one of the options was to use it make one.  Unfortunately, it has never made it to the top of the "To Do" list.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the fabric requirements are for this because maybe this could also be a chance to move another HSY* out of storage and onto a lap or bed!
 
Note that this one is going to run a little different than your usual mystery:  You have to register on the June 11th Turning Twenty blog post before midnight on July 15th and the instructions will be emailed to you as they are issued.  The Mystery will run from July 1 to December 15th.  It will interesting to see how this one evolves!

Just looking for ways to keep my head in the game in order to get back in gear!!

* HSY (pronounced "Hussy") = Haven't Started Yet

Getting Back To Work - Part 1

Despite the plan (there I go making God laugh again!) that when all the recent volunteer obligations had been completed I would get right back to quilting, that has not quite been the case.  First of all, everything STILL hasn't completely finished up yet!  There are final meetings to attend and as Treasurer, I have to close the books for the Parents Association and issue a year-end financial report at the end of this month.  Also as the other things I was involved in have slowed, my DH and I have ramped up our participation in the local community garden that broke ground last fall and has been gearing up during the Spring for its first Summer of plantings.   As a result there have been increasing time diversions there.  However, I am determined to keep my eye on the horizon and work to slowly push myself back to where I want to be -- in front of my machine!!! 

To that end, I've been trying to do a few things although the state of my cutting table is hampering that quite a bit:


One things I wanted to get off of it was a project that has long been on the periphery of my quilt plans:  De-boning Shirts for Quilting.  Last month while I was out looking for new planters for my terrace, my DH and I had started by checking out the local Habitat For Humanity Re-Store shop.  I didn't find any planters but I did score three flannel plaid shirts for $1 each.  I love making flannel quilts, love the idea for re-purposing shirts for quilt fabric as made famous by Bonnie Hunter in her books Scraps and Shirtales I and II.  I haven't often found shirts in previous trips to thirft stores (or at least they have often been more expensive than that) so this time I grabbed them as quick as I could!
This is a shot of them after de-boning one of them.
After bringing them home, I checked out a video of Bonnie doing a de-boning demonstration at a quilt guild meeting.


I was able to get two of them done before last month ended and over the past couple of weeks finished up the last one as well as four other shirts I had purchased years ago.  As Bonnie points out, it's really amazing how much fabric you can get from even one shirt and with very little waste!


This is a picture of a quilt called "Fragments of the Past" by Lyn Inall that appeared in a wonderful book called "Quiltmakers of Australia: Celebrating the Traditions". 

 
Early in my quilt career, this book was my first introduction to the work of Australian quilters (the book itself was published in 1996).  It wasn't until later that many of the quilters I was introduced to in that book (like Kim McLean, Lee Cleland and Brigitte Giblin among others) became the icons of quilting they are for me now.  

I've always wanted to make this quilt which in the book is made out of re-cycled wool using a block template called "Batwing".  Later when I learned about Bonnie's re-use philosophies, I instead started looking for shirts to re-cycle to make it .  As I said, I didn't find many and certainly not as cheap as Bonnie and others I've read about on the web get them for.  I don't know if the collection I have amassed will actually get made up in this design or if they will get used in one of the other numerous flannel quilt design ideas I've collected. 


At the least I'm glad to finally get the "stash" cut down into more manageable and easily stored pieces.  In the center are all the shirts (most are flannel but a few are regular cotton), on the bottom is a pair of DH's flannel lounge pants that bit the dust and on top some flannel pieces that were on remnant or sale tables.  Don't know when I'll get to work on this but it's exciting to know it's there!

So now, what's next?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Get It Done! May Recap, June Goals

Well, the month ended much the same way the rest of the month happened in my last post -- nothing much got done on the sewing front in the last week.  The good news is that once again I am looking forward to all the commitments of the last few months finally finishing up.  I have three more events/meetings to attend this week and the last school meeting and event next Saturday and then I'M COMPLETELY FREE!!  My plans as they stand are to spend the rest of the summer fixing up my home, sewing and finally getting starting on a long desired writing project.
 
As such, there are a lot of "NOT DONE's" when reporting on the May Goals list:
 
 1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts (now that the machine is back).
 
NOT DONE
However, I am looking forward to using the new Westalee templates talked about in the last post on these tops real soon!
 
2.  Wool/BOMs: Finish stitching last month's block and work on the next block for the wool Ornaments.  For the Heart & Home BOM: I need to decide whether to proceed with finishing it or leaving this one until the Fall. 

PARTIALLY DONE
I did get the ornament I wanted to get done for May cut out in the last week but didn't get to stitch up either the April or the May one.  Only one more ornament to go on this set so I'm hoping to really get back on track with this in June.

NOT DONE
Since I didn't get anything more done on the Heart & Home BOM in May, I'm taking it down off the design wall, making a lot of notes about how I think I want to proceed with this and putting it aside until I start work on Fall projects in either late August or September.

3. Applique:  Would love to work on and finish "Spring Fling" so I can hang it for the season before it's over.  I'm also still debating on whether I will machine or hand applique this one so this may wind up in the next category instead!  

NOT DONE
Didn't do any further work on this and as noted below still need to make some decisions about how to  proceed on it.

3.  Hand Work:  I still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" and finally restart work on my old Quilt-As-You-Go project.  I would also still like to mount the finished Lincoln/Obama Redwork but again no promises on that one.

NOT DONE
The QAYG project may be replaced by "Spring Fling" if I decide to do it by hand.

4. Gift Quilts: Once again, I need, need, need, NEED to start work on the baby quilt!

NOT DONE
Hoping freed up time will clear some space in my plans to finally get to this.

5.  WIP:  Work on Thea's Puzzle, make up quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project.

NOT DONE
I think finishing up Spring tasks will be a priority this month.

6. New Project: Quilts of Valor: I have long wanted to make some QOVs.  My plan is to try to make one each month for May, June and July in commemoration of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.  Wish me luck!   NOT DONE.  Not even started but there's still the Summer to catch up!

So the June Goals stay pretty much of the same as for the previous months:
 
 1. UFOs:  Quilting on the Civil War lap quilts.  Can I get these finished once and for all?!?!?
2.  Wool/BOMs: Finish stitching the last two month's ornaments and work on the next block for this month. 
3. Applique:  Work on and finish Spring Fling so I can hang it for the season before it's over.  Now that Heart & Home is tabled until the Fall, I still need to decide whether I will machine or hand applique this one and whether it will temporarily become my Slow Sunday Stitching project.  
3.  Hand Work:  I still want to resume "Slow Sunday Stitching" but still need to decide if it will be with "Spring Fling" or finally restarting work on my old Quilt-As-You-Go project.  I also still want e to mount the finished Lincoln/Obama Redwork in the Red, White and Blue room so maybe I can bundle that with the QOV work.
4. Gift Quilts: Once again, I still NEED to start work on the baby quilt.
5.  WIP:  Work on Thea's Puzzle, make up quilt sandwiches for the FMQ Mystery at Lori's Inbox Jaunt and plan the Seminole bands for the kitchen curtain project.  Again, more Spring season clean-up.
6.  Quilts of Valor (aka No Longer A New Project): Fortunately because I had planned to work on QOVs throughout the summer months there's still time to make up for the Memorial Day one and still make one to commemorate Flag Day in June and one for the Fourth of July. 

Looking forward to re-focusing on ME for the rest of the Spring/Summer and hopefully have way more interesting things to report in the near future!