Sunday, December 27, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching: Let the Hand Work Series Begin!

As noted in my last post, I am currently machine-less.  This actually happened at a good time since I had planned to start a big hand work project for New Year's and had a few projects that I had planned to finish this year that are easily adapted to hand work. 

Considering that I got into quilting because it could be done completely by machine, over the years after admiring all the beautiful hand work done by many quilters, I've been slowly learning and adopting hand work techniques like hand applique and hand quilting.  Now I get to add another one:  hand piecing! 

Back in October I started doing Pam Buda's most recent Pocket Patchwork Sew Along called "Tucker".  I still had a lot of Civil War scraps from past projects and thought it a good project for putting some of them to use. 

After decorating for the holidays, I also realized I had the perfect place to display it (see Pam's explanation for why the project is called "Tucker" in her reveal post).  This would have been a quick turnaround by machine but when my machines became unavailable, I realized this little project could still be finished if I chose to hand piece it.  Even better, this little quilt isn't meant to be quilted (although you can if you want to) just backed and bound so that simplifies the handwork even further. 

Fortunately for once when I wanted to sit down and stitch, I had a day free of outside obligations so didn't have problems getting to it.  So while watching today's NY Jets football game, I've managed to get this much done so far:

Since this is the first time I'm doing piecing by hand,  I of course went to the Internet to see what advice was out there for what I expect to be a bit of a learning curve.  The first source was the queen of hand piecing, Jinny Beyer.  She has a whole section of her website that provides "Tips and Lessons" for various aspects of hand piecing. 

The other most helpful blog was one that hasn't been updated recently but had two really useful tips on it.  Chris aka "Crispy Quilts" hosts the blog "Hand Piecing With Crispy".  On it she had a great post showing how to make a "No Knot Knot" and I found her instructions on sewing seamed intersections very clear.

At this point, I'll be breaking for dinner and will go back to stitching while watching some of our favorite evening shows.  Hopefully, there will be a finish update by next week!

Linking up over at Kathy's Quilts on this week's (the last of the year) Slow Sunday Stitching post.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Holiday Projects Wrap-up

I've got some things to share and expect to be busy tomorrow so wanted to get in a quick post before we have to head out to see the relatives this afternoon.  It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted so forgive me that this is a bit of a long one (although that is usual for me). 

First off, to those of you who celebrate it, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

And to all a very Happy Holiday Season!!
It turns out the last few weeks did not go quite as I expected.  In my December "Get It Done!" post, I talked about realizing that due to life changes, I have to rethink how and when I do my quilting.  That process is still going on although it is not fully settled yet.  However, paying more attention to how my days flowed, I did mange to get a few things done, even if they were not the things on my list!

For the holidays, the plan was to finish up the wool ornaments I had been working on all year (well, at least in the first three quarters of the year!) in preparation for getting a Christmas Tree and to finally quilt the "High Strung + 2" Christmas quilt top I had started last Christmas.  However, I also wanted to make some other holiday decorations and figured they would be quick and easy enough to whip out as a warm up to the other projects.

Right after Thanksgiving, I went shopping and saw this pillow in a local Marshall's:

I've always wanted to make an Advent calendar quilted wall hanging but when I saw this pillow with the little pockets for each day, I just knew this was a better option.  Part of that reasoning involved the fact that  I already had this pillow that lives on my couch: just knew I could make up a pillow cover that would kill two birds with one stone!  So after pulling stuff from stash (fabrics, fusible web for the numbers, stabilizer and ribbon trim for the front), doing some measuring, making some calculations, choosing a font in my wordprocessing program and figuring out how much to enlarge it, and then just generally making a (albeit, creative) mess:

....I wound up with this:

 I bought a few chocolate Santas to fill the pockets and I was good to go!  I even had a fabric in stash that pictures "The 12 Days of Christmas" which I used for the back of the pillow.  I also managed to whip up a label for it with some of the leftovers which was sewn onto the back of the front at the same time the pockets were sewn down:

I also love that I won't have to find a place to store another pillow all year.  When the holidays are done I can just take off the cover, roll it up and add it to the other quilts stored in the bookcase behind the couch.

I thought that would add enough holiday spirit to the couch since I still expected to hang the other quilt and have the tree in the area behind the couch (to the left of where this pillow sits).  However, I still felt the couch would need just a little more balance in the decorations.  No problem since I've collected a number of holiday decorating designs over the past few years.  One of them was this one:

A pattern by Debbie Busby of Wooden Spool Designs, this would be another in the series of projects where I get to work with wool applique.  The details of the design seemed to me to be simple enough that I thought it another thing that could be run up quickly.  However, it should be noted that the pattern is for a 9" x 7" table mat and I was looking to cover this 18" square pillow:

So needless to say, once again I needed to do some calculating to figure out how to translate the design to a pillow and enlarge it to the needed size.  I liked the scalloped edge of the original mat and needed to figure out how to easily translate that to the pillow.  The decision was that instead of the black fabric being a background with the text area appliqued on it, I made the black portion a frame to be appliqued onto a light background and the exposed center would serve as the text area.  All of this was made up from stash:  a Connecting Threads flannel for the background, the black frame and most of the red pennies from my wool stash and two of the red pennies and all the green pennies from the scraps from my (still to be quilted) Home & Heart wool BOM project.  It was also top stitched with the Aurifil Lana wool threads I stashed for that same project.  So that finished up as this:

Now at this point, with it now being the week of Christmas and the two projects I mentioned at the start of this post still to finish, I SHOULD HAVE moved on to those right?  However, by now we found out that we were not going to have to host Christmas (whew!) so decided not to go with a big tree as originally planned which took the pressure off to finish the ornaments.  I'll just add what's left to next year's "To Do" list.   However, I still wanted to do some more small space decorating and since I'd need to clear off my cutting table in order to layer the "High Strung" quilt top (which also no longer needed to be done by Christmas Day), I decided to try to work on something else that was sitting on my table.

During Black Friday weekend, the Primitive Gatherings quilt shop held their "Primitive Christmas" sale.  I had purchased my Heart & Home BOM from them as well as most of my wool stash through a Monthly Wool Gatherers Club mailing back in 2011-2012.  One of the things I purchased in the Christmas sale was a kit for a wool table mat.  I had special plans for this kit that involved these candles (battery operated) that I purchased from Leisure Arts.

Once again, the belief was that this was a really simple design that would make up quick and then move onto the layering of the Christmas quilt.  The good news was that for the most part the cutting and stitching was quick (finished over about two days):

The kit also came with the brown homespun fabric on the left for the backing and was supposed to be finished by blanket stitching the edges.  I had, however, also considered backing and binding it with the red plaid on the right from my stash or even doing a "pillow turned" edge for a cleaner finish and then maybe still adding the blanket stitching as more of a decorative element.  Also as I was stitching around the applique motifs, I thought about how cool it would look to add beads to the trees as "ornaments" possibly to something in the center of the mat (maybe some more applique or a small oval cut-work doily?) for when I decide to actually use this as a table mat in the future.  I admit I wanted to entertain all these ideas but there was no time for it and for what I wanted to use this mat for right now, it was actually just fine as it is!  So executive (and time crunched) decision:  Let's just leave it as is for now, put it in place for decoration until New Year's and add further embellishment of it to the "To Do" list for next year.  I know, I know, I'm asking for trouble but we executives sometimes have to make the tough decisions!!   So that said, up it went:

It is sitting on top of a pretty (turned over) basket that had been part of a food gift basket given to us a couple of Christmases ago.  I always kept it hoping to use it for some kind of display and this was perfect!  I actually have another plan for a display for in the basket come Easter so let's hope the "To Do" list doesn't get the best of me next year and I can get to it!  Oh, and I 've got to say those candles are a great investment.  Here's a better shot of them when the lights are low:
They are remote controlled and can be changed to twelve different colors either separately (as you see here) or as a group.  They also can be set to cycle through all the colors and can be set to "flicker" at two different speeds (hmmm, next time I'll make a video of that and post it). 
Now, I'll bet you're saying:  "that wall behind it looks a little bare".  Well that's just what I was thinking and I had a plan for that too!  Again, back in the December "Get It Done" post, I had led off talking about starting on Pam Buda's "Tucker" Quilt Along.  At the time I was waiting for the final reveal post so I could finish mine.  I didn't do it right then but after finishing the candle display, I realized I had the perfect spot for that little quilt.  Also re-reading the reveal post I realized just how easy a finish this would be since it was not meant to be quilted (although you can if you want to).  Ok, this means I could take just one more day, sew the rows together, make up some quick Flying Geese units for the last part of the QAL, back, bind and hang it up!  So I pulled out the project boards holding the project (these are my Lori Holt (of Bee In My Bonnet) design boards that I made with her tutorial but the Fat Quarter Shop also sells some premade ones now here).  Digging into my CW stash and started cutting some more squares to finish the set up of the Part Three unit (on the right below):
As you can see on the Part Two unit (on the left above) I started to sew the rows together and....what don't you want to hear on Christmas Eve with rows to sew together and another quilt waiting to be quilted?!?  Yes, my Janome machine which had already starting making noise as I was sewing up the table mat, really started acting up as I started to sew these squares. 
The machine in better days when it came back from service in April.
As far as I could see, the bobbin case is not staying in place as the machine begins to sew!  Drat!  There is no way I can take this machine in for service until next week at the earliest and I know that even if I do there's a good chance it won't get worked on until after the New Year!

Ok, technically this shouldn't be a problem since I also have another machine, my old Euro-Pro.  I had used this machine for the first eight years and thirty-five quilts of this quilty life.  However, this machine, purchased from one of the TV shopping networks, had never been serviced and I think it was a little "dodgy" when I last used it.  But, in a pinch, you've got to work with what you've got.  So I loaded it into my table:

...and...Ugghh!!  I'm having the exact same problem!  The bobbin is not staying in place.  Now, I've been sewing since I was a teenager so the workings of machines are not completely foreign to me but these are definitely issues beyond my control.  O.k., there's one last possibility....

I've had this featherweight since my mother died eleven years ago.  I believe it was her boyfriend's machine who had been a tailor.  Ever since I took possession of it, I always wanted and used it as a display piece although I know these are much coveted as "work horse machines" among quilters.  When my Janome was out for service for a very extended period earlier this year, I began to think about pulling down this little machine and figuring out if it was possible to get it in shape for service.  To that end, after reading a few recommendations, I bought David McCallum's book "The Featherweight and I" with plans to one day sit down and learn about what I had.  I've never had to chance to do this until now.  So I pulled it off the shelf, began reading and looking and....

...discovered I was (still) sunk!  The "V belt" that drives the motor is broken!  I did plug it in and the light and motor do work but without the belt to drive the flywheel which drives the needle mechanism, this option is now too a bust.  However, I've started figuring out where to get parts both locally and online.  The belt fortunately is readily available and not that expensive, however, I want to do a full work up on the machine so will need some other supplies to do a thorough job.  So while this won't be an easy solution, it will be yet ANOTHER project for the "To Do" list next year!

So what does this mean for the outstanding projects?  Well, let's just say that on the plus side, this all kind of works into the plans I had set for New Year's anyway.  As I said, I expect to be busy tomorrow but am hoping I can put a post up on Sunday.  For a hint of where I believe I'm heading.....


Hopefully, I'll be back soon with an update!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Get It Done: November Recap, December Goals

Well, there'll be no recap list this month because NOTHING FROM LAST MONTH'S LIST GOT DONE!  Despite having a shorter-than-normal list last month and checking it twice (yes, 'tis now the season!),  I didn't manage to sew anything quilt related this month. 

For starters, back in mid October, I had started work on Pam Buda's "Tucker" mini quilt-along because I thought the mini project would make quick use of some of the Civil War scraps that I already had cut.

However, when I got to step three at the end of October, I felt that I didn't have enough of a variety of scraps to complete it.  I decided to wait until the reveal at the start of November to see if what I had might actually work.  What was revealed was cute (and I already know where I want to put it if I can get it done) but also confirmed that I needed more squares in some other colors.  Rather than cut more just then, I felt I had bigger fish to fry so put it aside for the moment and moved on.  Then there was the issue of the cutting table:

Yeah, it was a big mess!  It took me almost a week to get it cleared enough to be able to actually work on it.  By then I needed to get some cutting done for the November fabric swap at the next guild meeting.  The themes for November were "Brown" and "Holiday/Winter" fabrics.

Oh, I also did some non-quilting sewing -- finally making a cover for the Styrofoam packaging that I use to store some mini pizza pans we have.  We had pulled the pans down to use for dinner one weekend and knowing that I have had the fabrics for the task for ages (which also just happened to be sitting on the messy cutting table), I figured I'd stop putting this off and just get it done. 

By now it was two weeks into the month and I finally pulled down the box for my long simmering DWR. This was to be my finish (well, at minimum the top) for Jo's Pre Mystery UFO Challenge.  However, when I laid out the center (finished back in 2012) with the borders (that I had cut back in April of this year) and tried to work on the applique for them,  all inspiration and enthusiasm for it left!  At that point other community and school obligations and the baking I needed to do for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday (three pies) all began to tumble in and I admit I was only a little too glad to be diverted, hoping inspiration would hit in the interim.

And that was it for the rest of the month!  I did try to rearrange some of the "To Do" tasks to try to take advantage of the days right after Thanksgiving.  However,  Black Friday (actually, Saturday and Sunday) running around nixed that.  This forced me to take another really hard look at my planning and at that point I realized something important.

Up until recently, I usually quilted in the late afternoon/early evening, after getting the day's chores or errands done and before I had to start diner -- which I usually didn't do until my DH (who works for UPS) called to say he had finished his delivery route for the day and was headed back to his base.  I could also continue to sew while dinner was cooking and until DH got home.  However, back in September, DH transferred from package delivery to driving tractor trailers for the company which also meant a change from working days to working nights.  I adjusted my schedule too but hadn't really thought until now about how it impacted my quilting.

Now that he works nights, I try to go to bed fairly early so I can be up early when he comes in from work (anywhere from 4 - 7 AM).  Since we no longer have the evenings to spend together, we usually spend the mornings together over breakfast.  Then we use the rest of the time to tend to any joint planning, chores or errands we need to do until he has to go to bed early in the afternoon in prep for leaving at night.  After that I "start" on my own chores and errands which is much later than I used to.  When they're done, I have to start right in on making dinner so he'll be able to pack a meal to take with him to work.  By the time he leaves for work in the evening, I'm pooped (having been up since REALLY early) and usually eat dinner with DS1 and wait for DS2 to get home (he's a high school senior so usually has after-school stuff to do and doesn't get in until late) and then I'm about ready for bed.  Unfortunately, this has also just about nixed my usual quilting time.  So going forward, I now realize I've got to really think about when I would like to "schedule" my quilting and be mindful of how much time I can realistically expect to put towards my projects.

So it's time to regroup yet again!  While I fully see how tough my circumstances are going to make finishing up things for the year, I still need to push on because whatever gets done, no matter how small, is still progress!  To that end, the December goals remain pretty much the same as the November ones:

1. UFOs:  The big priority project is still  my Autumn Double Wedding Ring.  Whereas before I just wanted to bring it to at least the flimsie stage, now I'd also really like to get it layered and quilted by year's end. 

2. Wool BOMs:  Xmas ornaments.  Time to finish these now and put them on the tree when we purchase it (and now have to decide when that will be).

3. To Be Quilted:  Last month I had two options but now am down to one:  the priority is High Strung +2, my Christmas quilt which is needed (well, wanted) for holiday display. 

4. Hand Work:  Slight change in plans here:  although I still want to get back on track with my QAYG, I've actually got a big bucket list hand work project I plan to start in 2016.  To that end, I'd like to get myself "warmed up" using the QAYG project (and still shooting for two per week).  But I've also already penciled in the prep work that needs to be done for the 2016 project for the end of the month after Christmas. 

5. WIP:  The blocks for the Halloween Quilt project remain as the leader/ender project through the end of the year and into the next.

6.  Gift Quilts:  The Baby Quilt.  Once again I must make a final decision on what I will make for this so I can start choosing fabric. I recently found a fabric that might make short work of the quilt theme so with some judicious planning maybe this can still become a Christmas gift.

7. HSY:  Now definitely want to get done  little wool wall hanging for my kitchen called "All In A Days Work" before Christmas since we might have to host this year (plans haven't been finalized as yet).  I still think this is something I could squeezed in if I plan it right.

That's it for me.  Have you ever had to rethink or plan your quilting time?  What did you decide to do?  Please share any tips you have for working in tight time frames.  Happy Holidays and Happy Quilting!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Project Update: The Halloween Quilt(s) - Part 2

When I last left off, I wanted to find a piecing pattern for a five-point star for my Halloween quilt project.  I had seen a pieced five-point star in a book I had but of course since I needed it, I couldn't find the book!  After a couple of days of looking around for it I finally found it (in my Scrap Quilt Ideas file) --- it is an early Joanna Figueroa (now of Fig Tree Quilts fame) book called Star Struck Quilts.  However the star in her book was very large and actually wasn't pieced with an even edge because it was designed to be set behind an appliqued circle.  Then I looked on the web and lucked up on a paper-pieced version at the Quilter's Cache.

It was sized to finish at 8" but my pattern needed blocks that pieced to the very odd size of 5-3/4" unfinished.  So now I had to figure out how to reduce them. Fortunately a long time ago I had heard about and purchased the C-Thru Proportional Scale. 

You turn the dial to line up the mark for original size with the mark for the desired size and the scale tells you by what percentage to change it.  I tried it, reduced the pattern, and pieced it.  It was great -- except -- to set the star squares into the block center, they need to be set on-point!  Yikes!  At this point, appliqueing 50 some odd stars is starting to look better and better!  But no, I still didn't really want to do this much applique right now.  So now what?  Well, when you don't have a pattern, you make your own!

I looked at both patterns, noted their piecing similarities and then decided to copy the applique star from the 1904 pattern, draw a square of the desired size around it, then break it up for paper piecing.

  After I got it done, I had to test it.  After piecing it together it was still a little oversized so I had to carefully trim it down to the needed unfinished size, making sure to leave the seam allowance around those star points.  When done, I finally had my pieced block!

I'm also getting to put to a full test a technique that I've only sampled in the past -- Freezer Paper-Paper Piecing.  While I've done a few blocks with it before (on the Crumb Houses I started piecing a few years ago and the big Candle block on this runner last December), this will be the first time I'll get to make a lot of blocks using this method.  What I like about this method is that rather than needing to copy a pattern for each block, I can re-use the same pattern multiple times until the FP doesn't stick any more.  There's also no tearing off the paper afterwards because you sew along the folded template lines not on them.  Something new I realized this time around:  it's even easy to know if the piece of fabric you are adding is big enough because if your fabric piece is as big as the pattern part while it's folded back, you're good!

I learned about this method years ago on Madam Sam's Sew We Stitch blog (formerly Sew We Quilt) from one of her blog hops (which she unfortunately is no longer doing).  The original post is still there but the pictures aren't loading so if you are interested in this technique, I found some other sources demonstrating it here and (on video) here

So this should have done it right?  Well, no.  The problem?  Yes, piecing is fairly fast and yes, I don't have to tear the paper or spend time making a bunch of templates (I did make a second one but only so I could sew two stars at a time) but I just wasn't getting into "flow" on this.  It still felt very slow going although it was a little better when I made two at a time.  Unfortunately, mentally I was prepared for zooming on this project.  When I was not doing so, I quickly lost the motivation to bust these out.  By the time I entered the week of Halloween, I only had this much done:

Nope. Not. Going. To. Make. It.  Sigh!!  I was bummed until I realized that:
1) Like every other project before this, this will get done eventually.
2) I hadn't really prepared myself for "problems" and therein lie the problem.
3) Prior to starting, I had not realistically thought about how much I needed to get done each day and week to finish this by the Halloween deadline.  Maybe if I had, I would have realized going in that it wasn't possible to do.

So it's time to reframe my expectations.  I do still like the quilt and as each block goes up, I do get excited to see the next one even though I'm not equally as excited to sew them.  I decided to cut myself some slack and just keep this one up on the wall and work on them little by little.  At this point I now have a(nother) year and if I can make a good (and realistic) estimate of how long it will take, maybe going forward I'll feel more successful about whatever I do get accomplished.  

Fortunately I've also got a bunch of other projects I want to finish by year-end and none of them require the design wall so I can leave this up and just work on a couple of blocks each week until this gets done.  I thought this quote summed it up perfectly:

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.
~Ivy Baker Priest

Enough said!  Keeping Calm and Quilting On!

Project Update: The Halloween Quilt(s) - Part 1

In my "Get It Done Report" for October, I had planned to start work on my Halloween Quilt Project.  As had been discussed in this post when I first embarked on the idea, this is actually two quilts that I hoped to sandwich back to back.  The plan was to make Blackbird Designs "Hallowe'en 1904" and "Midnight Silhouette". 

To my mind, these were both fairly simple projects and with a pretty large stash of fabric for them already on hand, I had no doubts that I could get them done within a month. 

I'd say the first road block to that was something I thought was an advantage:  my "Confetti Scrap quilt project:

I had a deadline to finish that quilt by mid October in order to enter it into a scrap quilt challenge.  I decided to start cutting out the triangles for the Hallowe'en 1904 block centers (large) and HSTs (small) and sew them up, leader-ender style, as I sewed the parts for the scrap quilt. 

That actually went fine -- I got a lot of triangles cut out and a lot of HSTs sewn up. 

Since I also needed some of the same orange fabrics for the Midnight Silhouette quilt I even started cutting squares that I would eventually use to make the centers and flying geese star points for the Sawtooth star blocks in that quilt.  I make flying geese using Eleanor Burns' "Triangle Pieced Rectangle" method so need only two squares, a smaller one for the "geese" and a larger one for the "sky" to make four FG units at a time.  You can see that method demo'd here using the new ruler they have for doing these although the older rulers (like the one in the picture) or even just a regular acrylic ruler can also be used to make the final cuts.

Squares for the Sky, Geese and Star Centers

I had also joined a guild (for the first time) in September and their October fabric swap themes were "Halloween" and "Orange" fabrics.  It was perfect timing because I was also able to cut squares for both themes from this stash.  I had to give six sets (and keep one for myself) and in the pictures below you see how many sets I got back in exchange.

Orange Swap

Halloween Swap

(I admit, I'm not peeking into what I received until I'm ready to use them!)

At that point however, the train started to go off the rails!  I got stalled on the scrap quilt's layout and because it had a deadline, I needed to focus on that.  In the end, I couldn't come to a decision on how I wanted to finish it and as the clock ticked down to the submission deadline, I let both projects sit.  Eventually I had to throw in the towel on entering the challenge and finishing the scrap quilt for now.    

So I thought that meant I could now go full speed ahead on these two.  I laid out the large triangles for the Hallowe'en 1904 blocks on the design wall to decide how to distribute them.  I had actually cut one more orange set than was used in the pattern but decided to use it anyway.  Then I needed three more black sets than I had chosen fabric for.  I was able to get one set by using the same fabric purchased for the background of the Midnight Silhouette quilt.  I had purchased way more than the pattern called for because I knew I might be playing around with enlarging it so had plenty to spare.  I then had to go shopping for some more choices when there was nothing useful in my general stash.  I found exactly what I was looking for and thought that now I was home free.

However, you know how patterns will often instruct you to "read the complete pattern before you start your project"?  Well, despite the fact that I've had these patterns for a couple of years and knew the pumpkins on it are appliqued, for some reason I thought the stars were pieced. Nope!  They are also supposed to be appliqued and suddenly I realized that I was faced with having to applique 52 five point star blocks!  Then the questions:  hand or machine applique?  Starch the edges to prepare them for invisible MA or fuse them??  If fused, do I want to do blanket stitch or satin stitch???  In truth, I really wasn't feeling doing any applique at all (well except for the three pumpkins) and thought if it was at all possible to piece the blocks it would go faster, particularly if I could do that along with some more HST leader/ender-ing.  However to do that meant finding a pattern for one. 

For the rest of the story continue on to the next post......

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Get It Done: October Recap, November Goals

Once again it seemed like the month went fast and my resolve to get things done went even faster!  I'm a bit bummed that I didn't get much done this month.  This was particularly true of my priority projects - even having deadlines did not keep me on track!  Actually, I'm starting to believe that it's too many deadlines that's tripping me up.  I've always believed that it was best to "put it all out there" when it came to tallying what I wanted to get done.  However, I think that also serves to overwhelm me when things get off track and then I'm more likely to shut down than to show up! 

To that end, I have thought about making some big changes for how I will approach my planning for doing these reports next year.   I do see value in doing them and will continue but I need to refine how I will choose what is on them going forward.  More on that in a later post.   

For now though, the October report was pretty bleak as you will see.  There were many deadlines but few completed:

1. WIP:  My "Confetti" scrap quilt.  There's a scrap quilt contest being held by Fabrics 'N Quilts with an October 15 posting deadline.  The scrappy parts for this had been made as "leaders/enders" for the past few years and during September I found background and border fabrics for it (which I've already started cutting out) so now it's time to put the "pedal to the metal" and "'git 'er done"!  If I have time, the extra in this category would be to also finish the update of a display piece by adding the Lincoln/Obama embroidery piece to my old Spontaneity quilt.

I did some work on the scrap quilt but a finish was NOT DONE which I blogged about here.  I didn't even look at the embroidery project.
2. HSY:  Now is the time to get my Halloween Quilt project done.  I really want to get this finished this year and on the bed for the holiday.  The good news is that I can start the blocks for this as leader/enders while I'm putting the top together for the scrap quilt in #1.

Again, some work done but a finish was NOT DONE.  More on that in a later post.

3. Wool BOMs:  Xmas ornaments.  Now that these are up to date, I want stay on track so these are ready for the tree in December.

What's pictured here is from last month, this month's was NOT DONE which means I'm behind again.

4. Hand Work:  Now that I finally got back to the QAYG project, this is another project I want to keep on track and try for a year-end finish.  It will be good for Fall hand work so as before, the goal is to try to get eight blocks done this month (two per week) and until the end of the year.

These are also from last month, for this month NONE DONE

5. UFOs:  As before, the big priority Fall project that I want to bring to at least the flimsie stage is my Autumn Double Wedding Ring.  The extra in this would be to also get it layered  and maybe even quilted but given past performance I'm not holding myself to that!


To Be Quilted:  I have a few options here.  I know I won't get to them all but if I can get one done or even started it will be a plus:
   A:  my "Paisley Park" crumb quilt because it could also be entered into the Fabrics 'N Quilts contest. 
   B:  I still have my Chronicles BOM, the last of the initial Civil War projects left to complete and something I already have ideas in mind for custom quilting.
  C:  My Heart & Home Wool BOM wallhanging (last seen here) which I want to finish and put up for Fall decorating.

Even with three choices of project, these were NOT DONE 
7.  Gift Quilts:  The Baby Quilt.  At most I'd like to (just) make a final decision on what I will make for this.

I've been cataloging ideas on the theme,, but making a final choice was NOT DONE

Last month I also noted that I had taken the QOV category off the list until I could see what I could get done and it looks like it will stay that way, probably until the start of next year.  Just like last month, November and December have some definite deadlines so this will give me a chance to test my new planning system.  Hopefully it works for clearing out the year-end projects or I will have time to tweak it before the start of next year.

November Goals:

1. UFOs:  As before, the big priority Fall (and now year-end project) that I want to bring to at least the flimsie stage is my Autumn Double Wedding Ring.  I joined the "Pre-Mystery Finish Challenge" at Jos Country Junction with this project so now have a Friday after Thanksgiving deadline (well actually until December 2) to get the top done.  Layering and quilting can wait for next month.

2. Wool BOMs:  Xmas ornaments.  Now I have to get up to date again and must stay on track so these are ready for the tree in December.

3. To Be Quilted:  Last month I had three options, this month only two:  the priority is my Chronicles BOM, the last of the initial Civil War projects left to complete and something I already have ideas in mind for custom quilting.  I'd also love to get to High Strung +2, my Christmas quilt.  However, it could also be worked on at the beginning of next month if I don't get to it here.

4. Hand Work:  Once again want to try to keep my QAYG project on track.  Now I'll settle for working on it steadily but am no longer concerned about accomplishing a year-end finish of it.  The goal is still to try to get eight blocks done this month (two per week) until (whenever) the quilt gets finished.

5. WIP:  Now that I've started it, my Halloween Quilt project is no longer an HSY.  I did start the blocks for this as leader/enders while putting the top together for the scrap quilt last month.  Since it's still up on the design wall and won't be in the way of the other things on this list, I will keep working on it through the end of the year and into the next.

6.  Gift Quilts:  The Baby Quilt.  This month I must make a final decision on what I will make for this so I can start choosing fabric. Maybe this can be a Christmas gift?

7. HSY:  On the list of things I really want to get done before the end of the year is a little wool wall hanging for my kitchen called "All In A Days Work".  I may not get to it this month but I'm putting it out there because with my new system, it is something I think I could get squeezed in if I plan it right.

Last month I had planned to set weekly "To Do" lists to better try to meet my goals so I'm not as easily distracted or diverted by the day to day things that pop up.  I've actually realized that I really need to do that at the start of each project so that I have a clearer idea of how many balls I'm trying to juggle at once.  If I can minimize what I'm taking on in any given week, I think I will be more successful at meeting my monthly goals. 

Once again, regrouping and pushing on......

Sunday, October 25, 2015

OMG! It's Time For Bloggers Quilt Festival!!

I can't believe I forgot about this and might have missed it!  You know that when everyone in the biz heads for Houston in the Fall, it's time for Amy Ellis' Bloggers Quilt Festival!

Needless to say with all I have on my plate right now, I don't have anything to enter this time around.  I hope you do and I'll be coming around to see what you put in!  If you're like me and just want to ogle all the quilty goodness, then head on over to Amy's website here.  As before, the quilts are in categories and you'll find links to your favorite project types:   Mini, Small, Large, Applique, Art, Hand or Home Machine Quilted, Modern, Original Design, ROYGBIV or Scrappy.

If you haven't already entered something, you still have time: you can link up a post about your project until October 29.  Those of us checking out everyone's work can also nominate projects for "Viewers Choice" during this period.  After the link up closes we'll be voting for our favorites in each category.  Hey, if you're in it, you might win a prize or be profiled on Amy's site as a "Featured Quilter"!

This is the next best thing to being in Houston, so go have a look!  You may find some new ideas to try or new blogs to follow.  Either way, it's always an enjoyable event in the blogging year!

P.S.: If you missed any of the past festivals, scroll down the festival announcement page and you'll find Amy's convenient links to what you missed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Have To Throw In The Towel......

....on the "Confetti" scrap quilt project!

This is as far as I got and today is the deadline for the Fabrics 'N Quilts Scrap Challenge.  They've been holding these challenges for five years now and the uploads for next year's challenge will begin right after the winners are picked for the current one.  I will be going over to see what is posted and to see the projects submitted by any of the gals from the "Scrap Bags" chat group over on the Connecting Threads site.

In my last post I said that having a deadline usually helps move along a project quicker than if I don't have one.  However, in this case, the sewing went slowly (and sometimes not at all) because as I began putting it together I kept changing my mind about the direction I wanted it to go.  Both of the original patterns I'm working from (and I posted about that here) used white or cream for the background sashing fabric.  I had planned to do that too until I saw this "Dictionary" print that I loved and thought would work well with the scraps of (darker) shaded fabrics I tend to use.  

When I began attaching the accumulated scrappy four-patches and squares to the sashing strips, I went back and forth about if it would still look good with the scrappy braid border originally planned.  At that point I began to think a regular border would go better.  I found this red print that looked good with it all and then a stripe that looked good with the red print.

  However, I still wasn't totally sure I wanted to give up the braid border although using both was totally not an option (that would be a little too much).  I also realized that I haven't used all the four-patches I have and using them with either border option has the potential to make a Very-Big-Quilt and I doubt I now want to go that way either.  At this point, I'm still considering whether or not to add a few more rows to what I already have on the wall and what the final border option will be.  So this definitely won't get finished this month but I am determined to get it done by the end of the year.

The other good news is that I did make progress on my Halloween quilt project.

I did some cutting, both for the project and because I had the perfect fabrics for the fabric swap being conducted at this month's Empire Guild meeting.  You had the option of trading for orange or Halloween fabric and I did both (one set of fabrics I gave and envelopes I received in exchange are on the upper right in the picture above). 

For this quilt project (initiated waaay back here), I've cut large black and orange triangles for the applique block centers and small black and cream/white triangles for the HSTs that go around the blocks in the "Hallowe'en 1904" side of the quilt.  I've also cut orange, a few gold and black background fabrics into squares to make sawtooth star centers, flying geese star points and alternate squares for the "Midnight Silhouette" side.  Leader/ender work has been done sewing up the HST triangle sets in between attaching the "Confetti" sashing.

The rest of the month should be focused on the Halloween quilt because -- you guessed it -- that's another deadline I had set for myself!  I'm really hoping I do better with this one than the last one!!