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.