Thursday, December 1, 2016

Get It Done! November Recap, December Goals

Well as usual it's either feast or famine surrounding the monthly goals.  Ironically in a month where we celebrate by feasting, for the goals it was famine last month!  

Of the five goals on last month's list I only got to one -- trying to work on the Fall decorating projects.  However, even that didn't get very far.  I got the wool motifs for the Fall Treat Jar sewn up and even sourced the ribbon and a little bird for the top of it....

...but the ribbon was too loosely woven to work as hoped and I stalled on whether to go buy another or try to salvage it by adding fabric to it.  I also worked on the layout for one of the couch pillow covers.  Using APQ's Pretty Pumpkin Pillow pattern and my Accuquilt dies, I needed to size it up for my much larger pillow.....

...however, once I was satisfied with the layout, I discovered that I only had two oranges in my wool stash AND couldn't locate my flannel stash which I needed for the basket!  I had used them last year at this time when I made some holiday pillowcovers and now can't for the life of me find the box I know I have them in!   I did order some wools and was sure the flannels would turn up when I started clearing out my "studio" (aka the dining room) for Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately then "life" started piling on.  Between cleaning, shopping and planning for the holiday, finishing up a pruning class (and required garden work days), temporarily writing the weekly community newspaper column and handling other responsibilities for our Tenant Association while our President recovers from surgery and attending a couple of unplanned committee meetings, quilting consistently got pushed aside.  I also admit I got a little too distracted sourcing a cool new accessory for my Featherweight machine (something I will report more on later).  The biggest mistake was that I didn't set up things that could be sewn in those small, in-between time increments so ultimately I never got back to any of the quilting.

So what's up for December?  Way back in September, I had already planned out the things I wanted to work on as the year draws to a close.  I'm hoping to correct the mistake I made last month by making it a point to plan out what I want to work on each week, so I can juggle my priorities a little better.  While I'm still conscious that too long a "To Do" list usually doesn't pan out for me, I do want to keep a few things in the forefront of my priorities.  I've also got to identify the things I can get done -- say in less than a half hour or while watching TV in the mornings with DH when he comes in from work -- so that even if hours or a full day devoted to quilting aren't possible, something can still get accomplished.

December Goals List

Carryovers From Last Month:

1.  Fall Decorating Projects:  If I find a new ribbon (or decide on a plan) for the treat jar, I will work on that.  I'll also at minimum die cut the pumpkin and circle appliques for the long pillow and finalize the background to complete a "kit" for future finishing.  I also have a set of plain pillow covers that I want to whip up so those are at the ready when next Fall rolls around.

2.  Slow Sunday Stitching: QAYG blocks.  As noted previously, this is something I'm hoping to pick back up after seeing a finished one on another blog.  I want it to be an ongoing weekly project through the end of the year until completed.  If I can stick with it, it will also warm me up for the hand quilted wholecloth project I want to start in 2017.

3.  QOV #1 and #2:  Get the backs made up and get these layered and basted for quilting.  Only if time and desire permits, I'd love to get them quilted as well.

4.  Autumn Double Wedding Ring:  I'd like to get this one off the list at least to a top this year so want to get back to it.  Need to get the applique borders on and if possible, layered and basted as well.

Projects Planned For The Month: 

5.  Labels Update:  Finish all outstanding labels (seven and one update label) and now I have an "official" cause:  to honor taking the Quilt Alliance Labelling Pledge.

6.  Finish Wool Ornaments:  And hopefully get them on the tree this year!

7.  Husband and Wife Gift Quilts:  For two married friends of mine.  If finished this month, give as Christmas gifts, if not, their birthdays are in February so I have a head start!

8.  Baby Quilt:  Putting this one back on the list but have to contact the Grandmother to see if the original theme still stands.

9. Graduation Quilt:  Another gift that the recipient was warned in advance might take a while to come.  At minimum, I'd like to at least get this started by pulling out the stash accumulated to date and seeing where I stand with it.

10.  Scrappy Trips as "Leader/Ender":  Scrap quilt project to work on while doing other stitching.

That's certainly a long enough list!  Looking forward to the end of the year!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Get It Done! October Recap, November Goals

With November here, the end of the year is in sight!  I'm pleased with what I got done for October.  As usual not as much done as hoped but two big projects I really wanted to get to, did get completed.  For the things I didn't get to, I was also able to see just when and how I got off track (there were nine-whole-days where I didn't get to quilt!).  Because of that, I immediately knew when or if I wasn't going to meet my deadlines.  Knowing that first hand rather than guessing or assuming is something that will be very helpful for me as I try to whittle down my project lists going forward.  So here was what was on the list for October
1.  T-Shirt Quilt:  Since this is a decorating project, it can start the list off this month. 
DONE and on the couch and blogged about here.
2.  Fall Decorating Projects:  Not even going to list them all out but let's just say if I can try to get to one a week, I'd be doing good.
Only got one done but it's a biggie:
 A Fall Barn Quilt (BQ #2) is DONE and blogged about here.
3. Halloween Quilt:  This one was started on last year but progress was slow.  This time I know I need to set it up as a leader/ender if I'm to make any progress on it.  Would love to "put it to bed" (pun intended) this month if I can! 
NOT DONE.  This is last year's shot of it -- this year I didn't even get a chance to pull it back out of the box!  And so it will stay until next Summer (if I really want to have a shot at finishing it) or Fall!
4. QOV #1 and #2:  Already noted that I'll be looking to nudge either or both of these to a finish if I can.

The "Cosmic Valor" QOV (#2) top is DONE (details here)....

....and I did get the backing for it.  Couldn't get it and "Combat Gratitude" (QOV #1) layered for quilting during the month so I know they won't get done for Veteran's Day.  However, I definitely will get them layered and quilted before the end of the year.

So what's on board for the November List?

1.  Fall Decorating Projects:  The other projects I had wanted to work on last month included two small table mats, a pillow cover and a treat jar to decorate so I'm going to see if I can try to get one, some or all of those done this month.  I have other decorating things to do around the house in prep for Thanksgiving so I'm hoping each thing will motivate me to get some of the quilt projects done to complement them.

2.  Slow Sunday Stitching: QAYG blocks.  This is something I'm hoping to pick back up after seeing a finished one on another blog (hopefully more on that later!).  I expect this to be an ongoing weekly project through the end of the year.  If I can stick with it, it will also warm me up for the hand quilted wholecloth project I want to start in 2017.

3.  QOV #1 and #2:  I want (at minimum) to get the backs made up and get these layered and basted for quilting.  Only if time and desire permits, I wouldn't mind getting them quilted as well.

4.  Double Wedding Ring:  I'd like to get this one off the list this year so want to get back to it.  Looking to at least get the applique borders on and if possible, layered and basted as well.

5.  Black & White Mini Quilt:  This is a decorating wild card.  Like the t-shirt quilt, it's a project I've been thinking of doing for a long while.  However, it is something I have to design and I've already established that DESIGN TAKES TIME in the project planning process!  What I am willing to try to do is give myself a day or two to explore what ideas I have.  If I feel I can move it forward I'll do so, otherwise it'll have wait a little longer for another time and place.

I can see everything except #5 scheduled into weekly "To Do" lists.  As always the challenge will be to then stick to that along with the other things in life I have to do.  Getting to #5 is going to depend on if I don't get derailed off of whatever I schedule and then wind up with some excess free time for it.  As always we'll see, we'll see, we will see!

Quilt Decorating II: Barn Quilt # 2

Back in June I made a Barn Quilt which I posted about here:

It is a quilt decoration that I had always wanted to do to hang on my terrace wall.  I have always planned to make a few so I could switch them out with the seasons.   When my DH had brought me a large board to make the signs with, I cut it into two approximately 24" squares that I figured I could paint on both the front and back and have four different designs.  Not to mention that if I wanted to do a new design, the boards can always be whitewashed and a new design painted over it.

The one I did in June is meant to be a summer piece so now its time for something for the Fall.  Since I have a wreath I also display out there, I wanted to get the sign done fairly early so I could switch to the wreath for late Fall/Thanksgiving and then leave it up but change out the foliage on it for Christmas.  It took me awhile to get the background paint I wanted for it and then to finally get a break between projects to work on it. 

Originally my plan was to use another of the quilt blocks from my original inspiration piece, the "Barn Quilt Trail Midwest Medallion Quilt" by author Suzi Parron.

My plan was to use the leaf design on the center right.  However, I realized there were couple of issues:  the first  was that I wanted more color for the sign and wasn't sure how or where to add it.  The other was that the original orientation of the Medallion block is on-point.  My board already has a hole drilled in it for hanging it "straight set".   So the debate was did I want to have the motif placed as a straight set so then it was oriented on the diagonal or did I want to drill a different hole and try hanging the board "on point"?  I was concerned about whether a hole in the corner would be able to hold the weight of the board and how the new hole would affect the original block that is painted on the reverse side.  I decided to look round for another design I could use.

Eventually I came across this one:

This the "Autumn Fantasy" block and quilt from Judy Martin's "The Creative Pattern Book".  I liked that this block was designed to be straight set and viewed on the diagonal (solves that problem) and loved the range of coloring in it.  Sold!  So after bringing in the Summer barn quilt and cleaning it off, I painted the background, traced off the design and pulled out my little pots of paint. Some colors had to be mixed.  

It took me a few days to tape off and paint sections and then let them dry before moving to the next section. I also added a stem because I felt it helped finish the design.

By the end of the last full week of October, I was almost done with all the painting when I ran into a problem:

I had planned to paint the last section by combining the dark purple on right with the burgundy color on the left.  However, it is a large area and I was out of the burgundy paint and had used up all of my blue paint when I made the summer sign so couldn't even mix up my own.  Truthfully, I also didn't have much of the purple left either.  Time for a change of plans!

It took me a few days to decide on a color.  Some of the block variations in Judy's inspiration quilt used more green in them and I liked the idea of adding more in mine also.  However, I also wondered if brown or some other color might also work.  I wasn't trusting what I was visualizing in my head but didn't want to paint test spots on the actual board that I might have to paint over.  Then I realized I could use the "Draw" function on my phone to test out colors. 

I finally settled on using a medium dark olive green and painted that in.  The last bit of painting was the final narrow border of black painted in around the edge.  Once all the painting and a few little touch-ups were done, it was time to seal it with polyurethane.  It was pretty cold that week so I had to wait for it to get warm enough for that step which finally happened the Sunday before Halloween.  Once finished, here's it hanging:

I'm thrilled to get another one done.  I'll see if I get any feedback (positive or negative) from my neighbors again.  I'm already thinking about spring --- I want to take the other (empty) board I have and do a basket design with some "applique" motifs.  We'll see!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Call of Duty" T-shirt Couch Quilt Finished!

**Warning: Process Post, long on details, heavy on photos!**

So what do you do when you live in a house full of guys, and your couch looks like this?

Oh, and the guys are all gamers?

You make a t-shirt quilt for your couch out of the guys old t-shirts!

I love my comfy couch but hated the peeling "leather" on the arm.  I had checked out a patch kit at Joann's but it said that it had to be applied from underneath the spot to be repaired.  Since I can't do that with this couch I had to find another option.  Years ago, my DH had gotten a t-shirt for "Call of Duty" as a promotional item with the game.  It was too small for him to wear and the boys didn't want it so I used to drape it on the back of our living room chair because, I admit, I liked the cheddar color in the logo!  Then one day I had draped it over the arm of the couch and liked the way the logo fit perfectly there.  Only problem was that any time someone sat on that end of the couch, they would invariably knock the shirt off the arm so I was constantly putting it back in place.    

Then one day it dawned on me that since I had always wanted to make a t-shirt quilt, why not make one for the couch?  I have kept a lot of our old shirts for a "one day" project and was pretty sure we had some that would coordinate.  From a design standpoint, I figured that if I made it long enough to drape down both sides of the arm of the couch and extended it under the cushions, it would help it stay in place.  The more I looked at the original t-shirt, I realized that after using the front motif there was still a lot of fabric left in the back.  I could use that to make a pocket to hold our TV and cable box remotes and the weekly TV guide from the Sunday paper so that those things no longer needed to lay around either!

Fortunately for me, since a t-shirt quilt has long been on the "To Do" list, I had purchased some t-shirt quilt interfacing two years ago during a sale so with that and a supply of shirts I was ready to rumble! 

I originally picked six shirts that coordinated with the "Call of Duty" shirt.  I wasn't sure which motifs I'd use or how big I would cut them or how much space I wanted to cover.  Some shirts yielded more than one motif.  In the end I picked a group of shirts that could be trimmed to fit the width of the inspiration shirt which was about 24 inches. 

I cut out the motifs from the shirts and backed them with the interfacing and I played around with them until I had a layout I liked.

Of course that meant that some other motifs I had cut wouldn't be used now but are already prepped for use in a later project.

Once I had a layout, I had to decide whether to just sew them together or add sashing.  I opted for sashing but wasn't sure what I wanted for that.  I wanted to keep the colors and patterns muted -- my living room is informal but it's not only a man cave!  Eventually I  found a camouflage fabric that channeled all the shirt background colors and surprisingly was also a knit! 

Laying out the images from the shirts again, I found I didn't need wide sashing.  What was used varies in width but are no wider than 2" (cut) in any area.  Once I interfaced and added the sashing, another motif got eliminated because I swapped in another small motif and then I didn't need the additional length:

The t-shirt interfacing makes the knit fabric thick so when sewn together, seams were pressed open to reduce bulk.  I had a remnant piece of "Star Trek" flannel I had picked up earlier this year and between the fact that it is one of my DH's favorite shows and I love flannel quilt backs, this was obviously destined for this project!

With the now heavier knits and flannel for the back,  I knew I needed a lightweight batting.  The lightest batting I already had in house that was close to the size of the project was some fusible fleece. 

Fortunately the top was not wide so I could cut this up and "Frankenstein" it back together to have a piece of batting the right dimensions for the project.  After picking out threads from the stash for the quilting (sorry for the fuzzy picture):

....and once it was all layered up (easy since the fleece batting was 2-sided fusible), you know what's next:  how to quilt it?  

I started by "stitching in the ditch" around the sashing to both stabilize the top and define the sashing areas.  After that, I took this as an opportunity to try get in some Free-motion practice.  There's a little bit of everything here:  On the Olive shirt I did Stippling.  On the Black shirt I did a free-motion rendition of a design from a pantograph I saw on-line.  For the big "Call of Duty" header I just outlined the logo and did some organic (no marking) free-motion vertical line background fill:

Although you can't see them in this picture, on the black shirt there are some minute "pokies" of the white backing thread coming up to the top.  At first I was a little concerned about that but I ended up liking that they mirrored the "flecked off" condition of the t-shirt motif!  (That t-shirt is for Microsoft OS (operating system) 2 so you KNOW how old THAT shirt is!!)

For the pocket piece I took the back of the "Call of Duty" shirt, interfaced it, folded it in half and quilted it with a piece of the leftover fleece sandwiched between the halves.  I did the same straight line fill for the pocket but did it horizontally and with a walking foot because I had trouble maneuvering the smaller section by free-motion (stitched a few lines, struggled with it, ripped them out and changed machine feet and method).  When I attached it to the top, I stitched it down in two places to create three pockets: 

On the light grey basketball shirt,  the printed motif is raised and rather rubbery so I decided to stick to quilting just around the edge of it with a "rounded rays" design I had used before on this quilt.  On the black Kung Fu shirt, the motif and words were outlined and then echo quilted.  On the small light grey section (the later addition which was also cut from the basketball shirt), it was supposed to be basketballs and pebbling but by this time I was rushing to finish this up so the balls didn't get conveyed too well.  Oh well....

Once the big sections were done, I went back in with the walking foot and stitched about a quarter inch away from the sashing seams and in some of the wider sashing sections also stitched down the middle of them. 

I bound the whole thing with more of the camouflage fabric although this time with no interfacing, so it's applied as double fold binding.  I actually had to do two different widths of binding: 2-1/2" for the three sides and 3" around the pocket area since it was six layers thick.  The binding was attached by machine, front to back and then glue basted onto the back to make it easier to do the front finishing "stitching in the ditch".    I did however have to hand sew it when I overlapped the 3" binding over the ends of the 2-1/2" binding with a fake mitered "join".  

And with that, this one is in the can!  Onto some seasonal decor projects!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Move It Forward Monday: The T-shirt Quilt Is Almost Done!

This Monday it looks like I'll be moving forward to a finish!  I finally got in gear on the quilting for  the T-shirt Couch Quilt this weekend and was up early this morning and got the rest of it done:

The pocket for the remote and TV guide has also been quilted and attached.  Now the only thing left to do is bind it.  I thought I was going to have some things to do today for our Tenant's Association meeting later this week but our President called and she's got the flyer distribution covered so I'm free to quilt for the rest of the day.  Woo hoo!
Making this quick post and then I'm going to take a lunch break so I can head over to see what everyone else is Moving Forward This Monday over at Emily Bailey's  Em's Scrapbag blog.  Then it'll be on to the binding!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Moving It Forward Monday -- Another QOV Top Done!

I've been working on two QOV tops for the last month.  I completed one (you can see it here) but the second one, "Cosmic Valor", needed some additional thinking to get borders onto it with the fabric I had left.  The good news is that over the weekend, I was able to come up with a simple alternative to the patterned borders that worked with my fabric constraints.  I finished them up today so now it's a flimsy up on the Design Wall!

Pattern:  "Patriotic Cosmic Stars" from Love of Quilting May/June 2016

Now I've got to find backing fabric for this.  I'm loving the open spaces around the center and between the star points.  I could definitely see potential custom quilting designs for this.  However, I'd also love to get both quilts  done by Veteran's Day in November so I don't know if doing that (custom work or the quilting in general) is going to happen.

I've also got a lot of little Fall decorating projects I want to get done this month so we'll see how far I get with these.  For now though, feeling really good about "Moving It Forward" so linking up with everyone at Em Bailey's Em's Scrapbag blog and all the other design walls at Judy Laquidara's Patchwork Times.   Happy Fall, 'yall!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Get It Done! September Recap, October Goals

Well folks, the year is moving quickly to a close!  September is now in the can and it's on to the year-end holiday season trifecta: October - Halloween, November - Thanksgiving and December - Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza.  Although my September "short" list isn't as "done" as hoped, there was at least reasonable progress on the goals for last month:

1.  QOV:  Finish "Combat Gratitudes":  Now that I'm in the QOV groove, I want to get the center finished, the borders on, find a backing and get this quilted for donation.  I understand that all that alone might take all month and for once I'm prepared for accepting that possibility!

 It's A Flimsy!
I already have backing for this but need to check for batting.  Not sure if I'll get to this right away because I have other priorities for this month.  On the other hand, I'd love to have this ready for Veteran's Day in November.

2:  QOV #2:  I have another QOV design and fabric I'd like to get pieced this month.  Haven't fully evaluated yet how much piecing it will take so although being listed here, if I don't get to sewing it now, it'll be formally mapped out for the October list.   However, if I can get it set up, I'm also thinking that it can serve as a leader/ender project while I'm doing the finishing work for the project above.

The center is together, still needs borders!
I did get to start this as a leader/ender and think I might have gotten further with it had I not been sick the week before last and the community activities commitments ramped up this past week.  I'm also low on fabric on this one so am going to have to think about how to proceed with the borders.  As noted previously, thinking/design time means additional time will need to be built into the project scheduling.  Also wishing for a November finish on this one. 

3. T-Shirt Quilt:  I really need to get back to this one since I need it for decorating which makes it a high priority.  I realized a while back that I had not made progress on this one because it involves designing the layout and as noted earlier I have to give myself time to think in that case. 

Didn't get to this one this month.
Part of the layout issues had to do with what to use for sashing between the t-shirt "blocks".  The good news is that during the month I did find a fabric that may work for that so I'm hoping to move this along now. 
Not sure what to do for the list for October:  I know a long list usually doesn't work for me but with the season change and us hosting the holiday next month, I really want to focus on decorating projects.  Then again, as noted above, I'd also like to move the QOVs into the final stages.  I'm going to post a long list but with the realistic advance view that a lot of things might not get done.
1.  T-Shirt Quilt:  Since this is a decorating project, it can start the list off this month. 
2.  Fall Decorating Projects:  Not even going to list them all out but let's just say if I can try to get to one a week, I'd be doing good.
3. Halloween Quilt:  This one was started on last year but progress was slow.  This time I know I need to set it up as a leader/ender if I'm to make any progress on it.  Would love to "put it to bed" (pun intended) this month if I can! 
4. QOV #1 and #2:  Already noted that I'll be looking to nudge either or both of these to a finish if I can.
Hedging my bets?  You betcha'!  Here's hoping I'll be Charmed by my projects this month rather than Bewitched!  Hope the cooling weather is bringing you inside to your sewing machine.  This is a great time of year to grab a quilt for hand quilting or binding on your lap!