Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Post of 2010

It looks like the last finish for 2010 will be my Schnibble now called "Tribal Scratch":

It was finished on Wednesday.  I thought I'd get to also quilt the last two quilts on deck but had no energy on Thursday (actually stayed up late to finish so was just too tired the next day to do anything).  I am working on the Crumb quilt today but it doesn't look like it will be done by day's end.  No matter, I'll probably spend the rest of the weekend and even early next week finishing them so they will not be hanging over my head as I move on to the PHD Challenge projects list.

Once again, wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year's.  See you in 2011!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Quilters Accountability 12/29/10

The Final Push and the Last QA Post for 2010

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Layer the Crumb quilt. Done.
  2. Quilt the Schnibble, Crumb and Brrrr! quilts. Started the Schnibble today.
  3. Finish up the Sage Sampler blocks.  Didn't touch 'em.
  4. Get back to work on the DWR top. Nope.
It's a good thing I accomplished the things I did last week, because after setting up my machine to start this week's list, I broke my new sewing machine!  I hit the plate converter with the needle (don't know how I did that) and it popped off, prompting a rush visit on Friday to the Nimble Thimble where I had purchased it so it could be sent out for service.  I was lucky it happened at the end of last week because the store is closed all this week.  Which was fine since I had promised DS2 that I would take him to purchase the skateboard he wanted for Christmas so we were able to "kill two birds with one stone" that day.  Thank goodness I still have my old machine so I am not totally stranded.

So after maiming my machine, visiting relatives on Christmas Day and prepping for friends who were going to stop by on Monday, I think I expended the last of my Holiday energy. After DH and I shopped early Sunday in anticipation of either our guests or a forcasted snowstorm, I took the rest of the day to relax. By Sunday afternoon the blizzard came in, by that evening we had cancelled the plans with our friends and by Monday morning we had no more storm and twenty inches of snow blanketing the city! New York City rarely stops even for a snow storm so you know this was a big one when most of the public transporation was not running, the airports were closed and Mayor Bloomberg was exhorting everyone to stay home and take a Snow Day.
Picture Courtesy of the NY Daily News; 12/27/10 Article 

So this is how my week started:

All the layered quilts:  The Schnibble "Scratch" top is on top (layered the week before last), Brrr Park on the left (the last of the quilt tops made and layered in 2009) and the Crumb top which I finished layering on Tuesday.  So I did not get to start quilting until today.  However, "Scratch" is small and I've got about a quarter of it done already, so the quilting may get finished tonight and the "back-turned-to-the-front" binding tomorrow.   

Goals for the Rest of the Week:  I still have tomorrow and Friday to try to finish up the other two and make the list for Finn's Year-End Challenge.  For Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday, I plan to participate in Pat Sloan's New Year's Eve/Day UFO Busting Party (details announced today on her blog).  I am hoping to finish things for the YEC as well as get a start on some things for Myra's 2011 PHD Challenge that I signed up for (you can see what I've got on my list for that here).  My goal for next year: NO UFO's!

Hoping you enjoyed your Christmas celebrations and are planning big things for New Year's Eve and Day.   Hop on over to Bari's to see how everyone else finished up for this year.  Here's to a productive 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quilters Accountability 12/22/10

It was a productive week.  As usual, not as much done as one would like but enough to feel real good about what did get done.

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Do the quilting on the blue & white quilt and mail off both doll quilts. Done!
  2. Quilt the Tree Skirt (and decorate the tree purchased on Sunday!) Done!
  3. Layer the Schnibble and Crumb quilts and quilt them.  Schnibble is layered, Crumb quilt's borders are on and quilting not done yet.
  4. Start quilting the Brrr Park! quilt (already layered from last year).  Nope.
So the doll quilts are finished and were mailed off to my Aunt Monday morning.  I got a Christmas card/letter from her that afternoon saying she hadn't heard from me in a while.  So now I am really looking forward to her getting the surprise package.  It was sent Priority Mail so should reach her before the end of the week.

I finished the quilting and binding on the Tree Skirt on Sunday and decorated the tree on Monday.  I was surprised that the skirt instructions did not include ties or a way to close the opening.  But after laying it around the base of the tree I found out why -- the open ends overlap to surround the base so it doesn't need closures!  Cool!

I layered the Schnibble quilt yesterday and had hoped to also get the Crumb block top done too so that I could just quilt the next three quilts one right after the other.  But that required attaching the borders of the Crumb top.  And part of the borders meant attaching the beaded barrel trim that is serving as the inner border.  Sewing the trim on was a lot more difficult than I expected.  I basted it to the top first which (note to self and any others planning on using decorative trims on your quilt tops) would have been much easier if I had planned for a wider outside edge seam rather than the standard 1/4".  It took a lot of finessing to get it in place yesterday so I had to wait until today to attach the outer border which again, due to the narrow seam and the thickness of the trim, took some finessing to get on.  But it is done and since it will be quilted simply (stitch in the ditch around the Crumb blocks and do some kind of decorative stitch in the sashing squares to give it a "tufted" look), I am hoping the layering will go fast tomorrow.

I also got a bonus project done on Friday:

This little runner was sewn up back in 2008 when I made the quilt blogged about here. It is one of three (in different styles) made from the leftover fabric from the quilt.   It is a Karen Montgomery design that I picked up from the Timeless Treasures fabric company website when I made the quilt (and can be seen in full here but is no longer offered for free and can be purchased here).  The fusible Hobbs batting used for the Gathering Garden quilt and the tree skirt had left me with just enough batting to layer this.  This is another "pillow turn"  project that I knew would be simple to quilt because the lines of the stripe provided all the quilting guidance I needed.  Nothing fancy here, just stitching with smoke monofilament thread around each stripe border and between the little sawtooth star and brown solid square motifs in the center. I had considered also edge-stitching around the outermost edge until I realized that after stitching to the right of the red fabric of the stripe that circled the edge, it looked just like a traditional binding so with that faux finish, it was done!  I am only considering this a bonus project (not a UFO finish) because I don't plan to sew up the other two until after the New Year.

This Week's Goals:
  1. Layer the Crumb quilt.
  2. Quilt the Schnibble, Crumb and Brrrr! quilts.
  3. Finish up the Sage Sampler blocks.
  4. Get back to work on the DWR top. 
So go check in with Bari and see what everyone else has planned as we make the final descent to the end of the year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quilters Accountability 12/15/10


It has taken far longer than I had expected but I finally got some finishes on the board!  When I pledged nine projects for Finn's Year-End Challenge in October, I did it thinking that the two doll quilts I have been struggling with for weeks -- no months -- would have been finished by the end of October at the latest.  Now that they are finished I am hoping that momentum will kick in for the rest of the projects I want to do.  Most of them just need quilting.  I may not complete nine but I am still hopeful (with sixteen more days left?!?!) that I can get pretty close.

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.  Done!
  2. Make the blue and white doll quilt top. Done!
  3. Work steadily on the DWR top. O.k., did not get to this one.
  4. Layer #2, the Christmas Tree skirt, the Schnibble top and the Crumb top for quilting. The first two are DONE, the other two - nope.
I am glad to say the Amish Doll quilt (now called "Amish Furrows and Flowers") finally, finally, FIN-AL-LY got finished. It is a little more than 18 inches square. The applique is still rough but I am happy with it. 

Finished quilt before washing off the markings.
It took until almost near the end for me to get into “flow” on this one and have “momentum” finally kick in. What is flow and momentum you say? You can read about them here and here respectively but to put it simply, it’s the point in working on a project when the work just seems to happen and move smoothly and before you know it you’ve reached a milestone and STILL want to do more and keep working until you reach the end which you are now hungering for. I finished up the last of the stitching on Sunday night while watching “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” and then the season premiere of “Leverage”. On Monday, I decided that since this has been a mostly hand worked piece, I should finish it the same way. Usually I put my bindings on completely by machine but for this one I sewed it on with the machine (to help secure the hand quilted edges) and finished it by hand.  Today I put it in with the laundry to wash out the markings.

And here it is with its "mother", the Trip Around The World quilt I made in 2006 (and blogged about here).  It was the leftover pieced strips and fabrics from that project that provided the start for this little project.  I've always said that  I see my quilting as an "independent art study" and with this one done, I have finished the semester on "Hand Work" that started back in the summer with the Applique and Hand Quilting classes.

And here is the little blue & white quilt (now called "Gathering A Garden In a Twister" after the fabric line and block used).  I ended up "pillow turning" the backing and doing a piped edge.  I wanted to use the dark blue leafy fabric for binding but thought it would be a little strong as a regular binding on a square edge quilt. 

I used Susan Cleveland's "Piping Hot Binding" Kit (that included the cording for the piping and a tool to trim it). 
Edited To Add:
According to her instructions, in order to use the piping around the edge I had to have curved corners so I decided to create a wavy edge all around.  I like that it softened the look of the quilt even further.  It is a little more than 22 inches square and completes the two credit course in miniature quilts. :)

I am glad this one is also done but I think the fabrics blend too much to be really effective using this “Twister” block design. I think my original pattern choice, the blended nine-patch would have probably worked a little  better with these fabrics.  But I love, love, love how quickly and easily it went together and since I couldn’t get more of the fabric that I would have needed to complete the nine-patch design this will more than suffice.  I am also glad I finally got a chance to do one of these types of quilts and look forward to doing another one.  I still have to do some light quilting on this one to finish it up:  I'll just stitch in the ditch around the narrow green border and the outside outline of the Twister blocks and tack stitch the center of each pinwheel.  Once that is done, I can email Finn to post two finishes for my pledge tally.

And last but not least the Tree Skirt is layered.  I was lucky -- back in March Connecting Threads had a big batting sale and I had purchased a couple of Hobbs crib size fusible batts for use with wall quilt projects.  I was able to layer both the blue & white quilt and the tree skirt with one package.

This Week's Goals:
  1. Do the quilting on the blue & white quilt and mail off both doll quilts.
  2. Quilt the Tree Skirt (and decorate the tree purchased on Sunday!)
  3. Layer the Schnibble and Crumb quilts and quilt them.
  4. Start quilting the Brrr Park! quilt (already layered from last year).
As I said at the start, I don't know how many projects I will complete for the Year-End Challenge.  Last week I saw a post for Myra's PHD (Projects Half Done) Challenge for January - June of 2011 (and I see that Finn has signed up this week!).  I've already made a list because even if by some lucky chance I get my pledged projects done before year-end, I've still got another stack that needs to be worked on!  Myra has asked  that if you join the challenge, you start off with a post with pictures of your pledged projects so I am going to try and gather those up this week and then submit my name for inclusion.  I am also picking up on another goal that someone mentioned on their blog:  to try to finish next year with no PHD's/UFO's which at this moment is doable.  But to finish with no HSY's (pronounced "Hussies" and stands for Haven't Started Yet) is a whole 'nother story!

So keeping hope alive, head on over to Bari's to see what everyone else has in store for the remaining weeks of 2010.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quilters Accountability 12/8/10

It's been another busy week with slow progress but progress none the less.

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt (she said, fingers crossed!). Not finished but significant progress made.
  2. Make the blue and white doll quilt top. Nope, didn't have time but I expect to get to it this week.
  3. Finish the DWR top. No, but I did get to lay out the blocks and check the applique layout.
  4. Layer #2, #3, the Christmas Tree skirt and the Crumb top for quilting (while my table is till clear!) Another nope but will get to that this week for sure.
 I was "talking" to (actually emailing) another quilter and we commiserated over the fact that we often feel we don't get much done but when we look up at the end of the year (or maybe even a year or two later) only then do we realize just how much we do or have accomplished.

Case in point, I saw a blog post about Myra's 2011 PHD (Projects Half Done) Challenge and began to think that maybe I should hedge my bets about this year and start making my list for NEXT year. But then I also decided to look BACK at my goal list for this year. And what I found reassured me: of the eleven projects I had listed at the end of 2009, I had already completed six BEFORE the challenge. In addition, I had the goal of trying new ways to quilt my quilts, one of which was to try hand quilting. Well that too has been done. So while I STILL want to get some (o.k., all!) of the things on my Y/E list done, I am not going to fall apart if I don't. Over all, it's already been a very good year!

But back to the task at hand. The good news this week was that I finished the library reshelving ahead of schedule, getting it all done on Monday and now this should free me until after the New Year when the school will get the cataloguing software for all the new books and I can go back in and help tag and shelve those. Finishing early would have been even sweeter if I could have looked forward to having the rest of the week to myself but a cousin's babysitting request for yesterday and an appointment today nixed that. However, tomorrow and Friday are (so far, fingers crossed yet again) looking good for a two day quilt-a-thon!

I am glad to say I have FINALLY been able to make some significant progress on the hand quilting of the Amish Doll Quilt.

The Dritz needles are working. It's still not easy but a few more full rows and the outer edges and it will be done. The new needles have also prompted me to dig out another long lingering WISP (Work In Slow Progress) - although this one will NOT be part of the Y/E Challenge!  Back in 2005, I had started a hand quilted, reversible quilt-as-you-go project that had appeared in the July/August 1998 issue of Quilters Newsletter (#304).

At the time it seemed simple enough: make the squares, fill them with squares of batting, top/quilt stitch the blocks and then whipstitch them together into a top. The idea was for this to be a portable and TV viewing project. However, I found it really difficult to quilt these blocks first with regular quilting needles and then trying longer, more flexible straw needles (and hence why there are only two finished in five years!). Part of the problem in my opinion was that the batting I started with, Warm & White, was too thick for hand quilting (an opinion later corroborated by Roxanne McElroy when I read her book "That Perfect Stitch"). But even when I found another, lighter, white cotton batting (Fairfield's Soft Touch) earlier this year, I found it hard to needle with the needles I had. But I think the Dritz needle I am currently using will also work with this old project and I look forward to getting back to this one after the Doll quilt project is done.

I also got to layout some of the blocks for the Double Wedding Ring quilt top.

I was concerned because AFTER I had completed most of the applique, I realized that I had oriented the motifs wrong: in the pattern, the block centers are laid out on point but when I did the applique I had applied the appliques to the centers as if they would be laid out on the square. I was scared that it would adversely affect the layout. But as far as I can see, while it won't look exactly like the pattern (which is not a concern for me) I don't think it ruins it. I did get arcs and melons attached to one center and finding out just how tricky it will be, I now know that putting this one together is going to take a lot of slow, steady work. It will get done but probably not until right up to deadline and might not get quilted this year as hoped.

This Week's Goals:

  1. Finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.
  2. Make the blue and white doll quilt top.
  3. Work steadily on the DWR top.
  4. Layer #2, the Christmas Tree skirt, the Schnibble top and the Crumb top for quilting.
This makes the list pretty much like last week. Head on over to Bari's to see what everyone else will be moving on to for the next week. As always, Happy Quilting!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quilters Accountability 12/1/10

It's December! OH, NO IT'S DECEMBER!!!! That's how I feel since I didn't get much done this week. Now I am feeling the heat. I’ve got to get a move on or once again I’ll fall far short on my Year-End Challenge goal (or heaven forbid even fail it completely!) But I am still optimistic for the coming weeks.

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Finish the DWR top while down in NC. Nope, did some more prep work but didn't get the blocks together.
  2. On my return, continue to work on the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt. Nope, haven't had time--Yet.
  3. Make one block for the Sage Sampler. Nope didn't have time before or after the trip.
  4. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top (received notification that the order has shipped and should arrive by Monday at the latest). Fabric did arrive while we were gone but work on it will have to get added to this week's list.
  5. Layer some quilts (but we'll see how that goes). Nope but there are big hopes for this week!
  6. PLANNED BUT NOT ON THE LIST:  Help my MIL finish the borders on three Xmas gift quilt tops -- Done.
The Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend was nice.  We had a good time and got to visit with all of my husband’s family both Thursday (planned) and Friday (unplanned) which was great since we won’t get to see them for Christmas. I did get the primary goal for the visit accomplished -- my MIL and I did get the three quilt tops she was working on just about done. Due to the MANY unplanned for activities that weekend (other over-night guests, birthday celebrations, shopping), we didn’t get to sew until Saturday evening and had to stay up most of the night and then get up early on Sunday to finish up before we had to leave. When I left, she only had the top and bottom borders (which I pinned on) to finish stitching on to the three tops. She already has her backing fabric so hopefully by mid-month they will be quilted and ready to gift. It wasn't until I started writing this post during the ride back in the car that I realized I should have taken a picture of the tops for this post.  My MIL doesn’t know how to transfer pictures from her photo card to her computer (something I had planned to show her but also didn't have time to do) so I can’t ask her to send me one. Darn!

The down side was that I didn’t get much work done on my own project while away. I pieced together all the curved scraps cut from the applique centers and trimmed them into the melon pieces that will go between the arcs (but will need to cut more straight from fabric) and cut most (but not all) of the red corner squares but that’s about it. I also tried to start laying out my DWR blocks but had to do so on a bed since my MIL doesn't have a design wall.  I found that wasn't enough space nor visually helpful to look at on a flat plane. 

Long before the trip I had purchased supplies to make a portable design wall using the plans in this tutorial and had planned to put it together and bring it on the trip.  But all the extra baking I had to do before we left nixed that. So once back home (and after all the post-trip laundry and shopping that needed to be done), I made the wall since I really need a big one for these blocks.  I modified the original design so that I have a second support leg (using the leftover 4 ft cut) so I can stand the wall vertical (tall) or horizontal (wide) as needed.

As noted above, the fabric for the blue and white doll quilt did come in while we were away so hopefully I can finally get back to that little project.

Original fabrics on the left, new additions on the right.

And I did get a Dritz Quilting Needle Assortment while in NC.  They are much heavier than the Clover needles I’ve been using and I have a lot of sizes so now should be able to make good progress on finishing the quilting on the Amish Doll quilt.  Also while down there, my MIL took me to a local quilt shop where I found this beauty of a polka dot batik FQ assortment, a batik FQ to add to my Batik Storm-At-Sea project stash and some Robison-Anton rayon threads that were on sale and  may be able to use to quilt two tops I have waiting.  

This Week's Goals:
  1. Finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt (she said, fingers crossed!).
  2. Make the blue and white doll quilt top.
  3. Finish the DWR top.
  4. Layer #2,  #3, the Christmas Tree skirt and the Crumb top for quilting (while my table is till clear!)
The library reshelving is coming to a close. I finished the numerical sections the week before last, I'll finish the fiction section tomorrow and the Biography section by next Wednesday at the latest (but I really hope to get it all done by Tuesday). With that done, I will have my mornings back until the library gets the financial grant the principal has applied for to purchase a cataloging system for all the new books that need Dewey tags. I don't expect any of that to happen until after the New Year so after next week, my time will be my own again.

So yet another ambitious week but hopefully not another with unexpected challenges to block the blessings of some finishes.  Now head on over to Bari's and see what projects everyone else is starting their December off with. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quilters Accountability 11/24/10

Not much to show for this week because it's been a busy one.  First the recap:

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Continue to work on the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.  Some done but it's still a slow go.
  2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler.  Didn't touch it.
  3. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top.  Nope, still has not arrived.
  4. Finish the machine applique of DWR block centers in prep for Thanksgiving trip.  Well, something was accomplished!
This week was a whirlwind.  I volunteered in the library at DS2's middle school on Thursday which wasn't so bad.  Then I volunteered on Friday for Picture Day.  I thought it would be just a few hours since it was only two grades but it wound up taking all day!  I was exhausted after and so didn't do a thing once back home. 

Nope, sorry correct that - it turned out DH had taken the day off and after Picture Day we had to go shopping because my MIL, who I am traveling down to see tomorrow, was in town.  When she lived here in New York she, I and a friend of hers used to get together to quilt.  But since she has moved, our schedules have not allowed us to link up.   She asked if she and her friend could come by since her friend needed help layering a quilt.  Normally, my MIL hosted our sessions because she had the most space.  Since we'd only work on her  friend's quilt, I said yes.  Yes, with all that hosting entails.  We had a great time working in my little space but that meant no time Saturday to do my stuff. The good news was that I had to clear my table for the layering so I think I will leave it that way until I come back and can work on layering some of my own quilts on my return.  

I thought I'd have my own mini-quilt-a-thon on Sunday but after the long week the only thing I did was stay in bed and rest.  Monday, I'd planned a longer day at the library because Tuesday and Wednesday I had planned to spend both days doing some baking for the trip.  My MIL also put in requests for some additional things so that meant more to do on my baking days.  

So I did finish the rest of the DWR applique blocks and the outline quilting of the border motifs on the doll quilt but  encountered a problem when I started on the middle.  Namely, seam allowances!  The Hand Quilting class project I did was a wholecloth design so I wasn't prepared for just how much resistance seams put up in hand quilting.  So far, I've tried to stab stitch at seam intersections but I may also try changing to a larger quilting needle (I am using a 10).  But all of that will have to wait until after the holiday!!

This Week's Goals:
  1. Finish the DWR top while down in NC.
  2. On my return, continue to work on the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt. 
  3. Make one block for the Sage Sampler.
  4. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top (received notification that the order has shipped and should arrive by Monday at the latest).  
  5. Layer some quilts (but we'll see how that goes).
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends.   And if you've got a little time, check in at Bari's to see what everyone else has planned for the week -- after all the eating is done of course!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quilters Accountability 11/17/10

 A productive and not so productive week this week.  As expected the weekend was a bust for quilting since I had things to do and places (a quilt show) to go to.  I should have had pictures for that but while I did remember my camera (for once), I forgot that I took the memory card out to transfer files between computers!

And the quilting on the Amish Doll quilt has started off just like the applique did -- more challenging than expected and therefore very slow going and not finished.  On the other hand, I am on track with the prep of my Double Wedding Ring centers and those should be ready for travel next week (is it Thanksgiving already?!?!?).

Last Week's Goals:
  1. (Finally) Start and finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.  Did get a little done but it's still (slowly) ongoing.
  2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler.  Nope was too focused on the DWR work.
  3. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top. Nope, because the fabric hasn't come yet.
  4. Do machine applique of DWR blocks in prep for Thanksgiving trip.  Yes, only have the last two rows left to applique and trim.
The pattern, the layout for the fabrics for my centers, what's been appliqued and/or cut so far.
An example of the (machine) appliqued centers and the remaining two rows to do.  And boy do I need a new ironing board cover!

This Week's Goals:
  1. Continue to work on the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.  (I've learned my lesson, no more promises for a finish until it's finished!)
  2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler. 
  3. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top.
  4. Finish the machine applique of DWR block centers in prep for Thanksgiving trip.  
I've got an extra bit of volunteering to do this week:  in addition to working in the library, I am helping out with Picture Day on Friday.  Since it is only two grades (6 & 7th, the 8th grade graduates took their pictures last week), I am hoping it will only be for a couple of hours.  I've worked Picture Day in the past at the elementary school when we had to do grades K-5.  That was an all day job so this should be much, much quicker.

Now that I'm done reporting, I'm headed over to Bari's to see what everyone else got done this week!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quilters Accountability 11/10/10

 Last Week's Goals:
  1. Complete the applique leaves on the Amish Doll Quilt.  Start and finish the quilting.  Applique is finally finished!  Quilt is layered and on the frame and the hand quilting can start tomorrow!
  2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler (to be done each week until all six are done).  Done, I technically got two done, one pieced and one a cut-out from a coordinating panel.
  3. Piece the Christmas Tree skirt.  Done, needs to be layered and quilted.
  4. Catch up on all the Quilt Whisperer class notes and assignments. I downloaded the last of the notes.  Since the class ended last weekend, I am on my own to read and learn from them. 
  5. Quilt the "Scratch" top.  Nope and on hold since I've got to start back on my DWR blocks to take with me on Thanksgving.
It was a busy week.  I never thought I'd get the applique work done!  Part of it was just the slog toward a finish and part of it was that I started volunteering at the beginning of the month in the library at DS2's middle school.  The library completed a year long renovation over the summer and I am helping re-shelve all the books.  Since they weren't put away in order, it means sorting everything down to the last decimal!  

With the applique done and on the frame and I've got the next two days for a mini quilt-a-thon (the kids are off from school tomorrow for Veteran's Day and I don't normally go in to the library on Friday ).  And I'll need those days since I've got an appointment to go to on Saturday and I have plans to go to a quilt show on Sunday.

I got everything else I wanted to get done except for reviewing the quilting class notes and well, quilting!  But if I can get past this last phase of hand work, I'll be ready to re-focus my head back to machine work. 

Sampler Blocks

Christmas Tree Skirt: "Happy Holidays" by Atkinson Designs.  The green fabric will be backing and binding.

Another little diversion this week happened while finishing up the applique:  I remembered that I had planned yet another doll quilt for this same aunt.  Back in 2006 or 2007, we had a conversation and she told me her favorite colors were blue and white.  Shortly after that I came across a fat quarter fabric sampler in the perfect colors in a Connecting Threads catalog.  Back then, they still sold other manufacturers fabrics.  The fabric line was called "The Gathering Garden" by Debbie Beaves for RJR Fabrics and I wanted to make a nice garden-themed quilt.  When I dug out the sampler set, I found that back then I had worked up a quilt design based on a pattern called "It's A Snap".  Unfortuately, after cutting out half of it, I realized that my cutting calculations were not correct and I didn't have enough of the large blue rose floral fabric for all the outer setting triangles (see: measure twice, cut once!).  

The good news is I've got another quick design in mind to use and combined with the fabric I have left and some more fabric I was able to order from an internet vendor who is still selling the line (and on sale!) I can still try to add this quick project to my year-end list.  Finn, who is hosting the Year-End Challenge recently blogged that some participants are adding "X-tra" projects to their lists (projects in addition to the UFO finishes they pledged) so this can count as a bonus project for me.

This Week's Goals:
  1. (Finally) Start and finish the quilting on the Amish Doll Quilt.
  2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler.
  3. When the fabric comes, make the "Blue & White" Doll quilt top. 
  4. Do machine applique of DWR blocks in prep for Thanksgiving trip.
We will be going back down to North Carolina to my mother-in-law's for Thanksgiving.  When she lived up here, she, a friend of hers and I would get together to quilt.  She says she has some quilts she wants to make for Christmas gifts so the plan is for us to work on our projects over the long weekend.  I want to take my Double Wedding Ring blocks down and put the top together.  I finished all the pieced arcs last summer and need to add applique to some centers (by machine this time) and then cut the centers and the melons so they can be sewn to the arcs.  This is one of my UFO Challenge List projects so it would be good to move it along. 

Please Note!  
On my sidebar is a link to the blog tour for Quiltmaker's newest special issue  "100 Blocks, Vol 2".

The magazine is filled with blocks designed by many popular designers (all you Judy Laquidara fans--she's in there!).  The magazine will be in stores on November 16 but if you check out the designer's blogs on the tour, you might win a copy -- like me!!  I  found out yesterday that I won a copy from Rebecca LoGiudice of Willow Hill Quilts.  Seems like my luck has been good lately since I also won a copy of the Fall/Winter 2010 American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt Sampler from Jill at Cre8fmom Quilts at the end of last month.  That one was my very first blog giveaway win.  With luck like this, maybe I'd better play the Lotto too!

Now get even more lucky and check in at Bari's and see what other quilters are getting done this week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quilters Accountability 11/3/10

Subtitle:  Reality Check!

Well, at least I expected it.  Despite thinking I'd have a number of opportunities to get to all my projects, reality was that most of the non-quilty things I had planned this past week took more time or energy than expected so when I had down time (aka hobby time), I was sometimes too tired to get any quilt work done.  On the up side, there has been some progress made and I've learned over the last few years that any progress, even baby steps, gets you that much closer to the finish.  And with progress, has come knowledge and that has kept me going.

Last Week's Goals:
  1. Complete the applique on the Amish Doll Quilt.  If accomplished start (and finish?) the quilting. Did get all the flowers done and all the leaves cut out. 
  2. If doll quilt gets done before next Friday, post to Amy's Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival. Nope won't make this in time. So taking this off the list.
  3. Complete the remaining six blocks for the Sage Sampler.  Decide on the layout and whether it needs/there is room for sashing. Didn't get to this one at all and I've decided to make this a little easier on myself, so see revised goals for this week. 
  4. Cut out the Christmas Tree skirt.  Done!
  5. Complete assignments for the Quilt Whisperer class. Didn't get to this and have to pick up this week's notes and assignments as well.
I was a little disappointed in not getting the doll quilt finished, I have enjoyed all the hand work but am anxious to get back to machine piecing and quilting.  But I have also learned a lot about it as I've progressed though this project.  I now realize that this was too small a project for me to do needle-turn given my current hand work skill level. 

The applique looks very rough.  It is much harder to get a smooth line on such small pieces and I can now really appreciate all the extra leeway you have on bigger items.  If I were to work this small again, I'd have to consider methods for preparing my pieces (freezer paper, english paper pieceing, starch and press) to get better edges.  But I still like it and think the rough look will suit it when it is displayed with the dolls -- it will look like either a kid or the dolls themselves made it!

So rather than this being a set back, I am even more focused on getting this finished and off the WIP list.  I have also lined up ideas for a lot of future applique projects.   I got the first block of the Jan Patek "House & Garden" BOM I signed up for.  I'm saving that to try working on it in the car since we are expecting to drive down to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.  I also plan to substitute a few blocks in that project and have to review the options I lined up for it while waiting for the series to start.

If any of you are interested in applique, the Canadian quilt designers of The Rabbit Factory have started a new, free pattern series of four seasonal wall hangings which can be picked up monthly from their website here (scroll down to the bottom of the page to download the .zip file).   I found one of their designs in a 1999 issue of McCall's Quilting and look forward to getting a couple of their patterns.

    This Week's Goals:
    1. Complete the applique leaves on the Amish Doll Quilt.  Start and finish the quilting.
    2. Make one block for the Sage Sampler (to be done each week until all six are done).
    3. Piece the Christmas Tree skirt.  
    4. Catch up on all the Quilt Whisperer class notes and assignments. 
    5. Quilt the "Scratch" top.  
     I am also a little disappointed not to have something for the Bloggers Quilt Festival, but I've already been enjoying the entries by the bloggers who are in my Google Reader feed.  So I am looking forward to surfing through the entries over the next few weeks and seeing what is out there.  I was actually able to look at all 600+ entries made in the spring and found a lot of great new blogs as a result.

    With the Quilt Whisperer class almost done, I am looking forward to quilting all the quilt tops I have laying about and getting them done for the Year-End Challenge.  My (as usual, ambitious) plans are to try to get to one each week.  The "Scratch" top is a wall hanging so I hope it will only be a one or two day quilt job. 

    If anyone is struggling with motivation for finishing up (or getting rid of) your UFOs, Pat Sloan is issuing weekly "UFO Busting" tips on her blog from now until Thanksgiving Day and has a support forum that you can also participate in.

    So join me back at Bari's to see what everyone else accomplished on their list this week!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Quilters Accountability Report 10/27/10

    As noted in my last post, I am joining back up with Bari at her My Crazy Quilting Life blog and everyone who participates in her weekly Wednesday Quilters Accountability check in.   I have nine projects I've committed to for Finn's Year-End UFO Finish Challenge (and a few more that I'd personally like to see put to bed before the end of this year) so once again I think I need the pressure of a reporting deadline to stay on track.

    Case in point: despite planning to work on my aunt's doll quilt yesterday and today, I got zip, nada done (can you say "too much surfing?").  Fortunately all it took was Bari's blog to come up in the Google Reader to remind me of the tasks at hand that I am neglecting.  And since I have a meeting to go to with DS1 tonight and Parent Teacher Conferences Friday afternoon, I'm still not too sure how much I'll get done this week.  But I'll have a go at a list anyway (sorry, no work, no pictures!).

    This Week's Goals:

    1. Complete the applique on the Amish Doll Quilt.  If accomplished start (and finish?) the quilting.
    2. If doll quilt gets done before next Friday, post to Amy's Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival.
    3. Complete the remaining six blocks for the Sage Sampler.  Decide on the layout and whether it needs/there is room for sashing.
    4. Cut out the Christmas Tree skirt.
    5. Complete assignments for the Quilt Whisperer class.
    Well that should do it.  Now let's see what gets done!  Check out what everyone else got done this week and has in their pipeline for next week back at Bari's.  See you next week!

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Handwork Updates

    In my last post, I was working on a lot of hand work projects for two classes I took at Quilt University.  As of last Monday, all the class projects and one additional block had been finished. 

    On the left is the Hand Quilting piece from Nancy Chong's Hand Quilting Class, on the right were the two class blocks from her Hand Applique class.  The little center block is part of a sampler project I've wanted to do for a while (more on that later).  For now, the large applique blocks are orphans. 
    Update:  The Pink Hawaiian Applique block was used to make a journal cover in 2013 and can be seen in this post.
    But now that my eyes have been opened to the pleasures of doing hand work, I've been looking at a lot of potential applique projects and the ideas are piling up.  So far, I've got preliminary plans for the wreath block to become the center of a medallion quilt but both could also eventually wind up in samplers.  On Friday, the Hand Quilting piece became this (rather large) bed pillow cover:

    I'll be washing it with the laundry tomorrow to take out all the stencil markings and I've still got to make a pillow insert by serging some squares of muslin together and stuffing it with batting scraps.  I was glad to find a good outer ruffle fabric -- it will go with a number of the quilts I've already made for my bed and another one I hope to finish by year's end.  I love the double ruffle but next time I make one I will make two single (hemmed) layers rather than folding each layer together to create the finished edges.  Those four layers of fabric were a devil to ruffle (too thick to do on the serger) although they do form a nice firm edge around the pillow.

    The little green and white Hawaiian applique block will be added to other blocks as part of a "framed sampler" project that I started waaayyy back in 2004 (I think?).  

     I had always wanted to try to make a paper-cut style applique block for this piece but at the time I was only doing machine applique and was not sure I could get it done.  When I realized this style of applique was also covered in the Hand Applique class, I was elated to think I might get this one done and made sure to pick a design and baste and stitch it up along with the larger class project.  The blocks for this sampler will finish at 3" (I've still got to trim the background of the applique block down) and will be pieced, paper-pieced and (now) hand appliqued.  The very wonky Nosegay block on the lower left may or may not stay -- I like the fabrics but the piecing is pretty bad.  On the paper in the lower right corner is a list of the other potential blocks I want to make for this such as Churn Dash, Card Trick and Goose Chase/Dutchman's Puzzle.  I would love to get this one finally finished before the end of the year and cross it off the WISP list.
    Update:  That didn't happen until 2013 and you can see the finished sampler in this post.

    As noted in the previous post, all this hand work focus was also supposed to help get me back to this project:

    This was a doll quilt I started in 2007 for my aunt who collects dolls and will be the second one I've made for her.  The center strips were leftovers from the Amish "Trip Around the World" quilt I made back in 2006 which I talked about in my "Bucket List" post.  The applique design is from the "Pineapple Welcome" quilt in the "The Scrap Savers Solution Book" book by Connie Kaufman, reduced in size by 50%.  Unfortunately, I had completed most of the previous hand work projects while listening to the NY Yankees play in the American League championships (even though I am officially a life-long NY Mets fan) but now that they have been eliminated, I've got to find something else to listen to while stitching.  Fortunately, there are always my favorites -- podcasts.  This afternoon I will listen to Pat Sloan's show and I know that Sandy at Quilting For The Rest of Us has a new episode I also need to catch up on so that should keep me busy.  

    Both this and the sampler project are part of the nine (!) project commitment I've made for Finn's "Year End Challenge" this year (button on the side bar).  I didn't do so great last year but I hope my "Spring Finish" productivity will be repeated for this one. And if I can get it finished by the end of the week, I am hoping that this will be my "Fall Blogger's Quilt Festival" entry (button also on the side bar) since I missed posting in the last one.

    That's all for now but hopefully more to come later this week.  Happy Quilting!

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Design Wall Monday 10/4/10

    Subtitle:  Never Say Never!

    I started quilting eight years ago because I learned that quilting did not necessarily mean handwork -- you could make a quilt, pieced or appliqued, start to finish, by machine.  That intrigued me because I come from a clothing sewing background and I tell you, the day I learned that you could hem skirts and pants by machine was the greatest day of my sewing life!  I hated hand work that much.

    However, lately I have been on a handwork jag!  My current projects are this:

    and this:

    and this: 

    How did I get from there to here?  It's not to say that I didn't admire people who quilt or applique by hand -- their work is beautiful -- I just never thought I'd get anything done if I did it that way.  But over time, I found blogs and got to regularly follow the work of impresarios like Janet of Quiltsalott and Cathy of Cabbage Quilts, Lori of Humble Quilts and Kathie at Inspired By Antique Quilts, Karen hand piecing and appliqueing many of her Dear Jane blocks at A Quilters Journey Back In Time and lately I've been following the exploits of Ann Champion on her blog and others at Glorious Applique as they work on the latest Kim McLean Roseville Album masterwork (and I've always admired her work too!).

    And I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe I could do it too!  One of my first quilts was a doll quilt for an aunt of mine that collects dolls.  It had machine appliqued hearts on it and was machine quilted with the exception of the border that I had to quilt by hand because I couldn't do what I wanted at the time on the machine (as Jeff Foxworthy says, there's your sign!!!!).  I've always wanted to make my aunt another one and two years ago thought a doll quilt might be the way to try some hand work on a small scale.  Those of you that visited my blog in the early days might remember my first header picture:

    The doll quilt is on the hoop
    ...and until this summer that project has sat because after the center piecing was done there was supposed to be hand applique motifs in the borders and then hand quilting for the finishing.  But after I tried a little of the hand applique and wasn't happy with it, I moved back to machine work.  Fast forward to this year and getting a lot of projects done for Jacqui's Spring Finish, I wanted to keep that momentum and tackle some overdue UFOS.  Then I saw that Quilt University (from which I have taken a class before and always wanted to take another) was offering a Hand Applique class taught by Nancy Chong and it was starting just before I was due to go down south for a week.  Perfect I thought, I can take the class assignment with me and work on it during the drive down.

    NOT!!  I did not have time before I left to download the class notes and when we came back I was busy with family stuff and couldn't quickly decide on fabrics to use for the class project.  Then I bought a new sewing machine and of course I focused on trying it out.  So I just printed out all the class notes, followed the class discussion and vowed to get back to it once things slowed down.  That happened in September when my sons went back to school  and after the class had closed.  But then right behind it, they offered a Hand Quilting class also taught by Nancy.  Since I also needed that skill for the doll quilt project, I immediately (impulsively?!) decided to sign up for it too, figuring that I could work on the Applique class projects while doing the prep work for the Hand Quilting class project and maybe, just maybe when the smoke cleared and all the class projects were finished, I could start back on the doll quilt project that inspired it all and maybe get that long over due gift off to its intended recipient before year's end.

    So far, so good.  As you saw in the first pictures, the first applique class project, the wreath block, is done (including some embroidery finishing -- another craft I have not done in over thirty years!), the Hawaiian applique block is basted and about a quarter done.  The smaller green one (which is also basted) is for a framed sampler UFO started six years ago and for which I always wanted a Hawaiian style block.  The Hand Quilting class project, a feathered wreath with grid quilting in the center and background, is about half done and I am making good progress on it.  I expect all of them to be done by the end of the week so that for the rest of the month I can work on the doll quilt and complete it.

    Why the rush?  Well, I've still got one basted quilt from last year, a crumb quilt top awaiting borders, layering and quilting, the three tops I made this summer on the new machine and a Christmas tree skirt on deck for piecing, all of which I'd like to quilt up in November and put my new machine through its paces again. So wish me luck on all things hand and machine and in your quilting journey, never say never!