Saturday, February 13, 2016

First thing this morning I ran a row of stitching around the edge of the borders of the Sister's Choice, so that all those seams are held secure.  They can come undone so easily while it's being loaded on the longarm, so now I won't have to worry about that.

I'm pleased with how it turned out, but halfway through that pieced border I realised that I could have made a nice crib quilt out of all those 2"squares;
 it was a nice idea, but I have fabric that would have looked just as good.  Why doesn't this sort of thing occur to me Before I start?  Never mind, it's cheerful, big, and most important of all, Finished! Well the top is.
This is the third finish for this year, and a total of 23m of the stash used.  Unfortunately there have been a couple of trips to Spotlight and the Jamestown patchwork shop.  25m has been added; I'm a bit appalled at so much, so soon in the year.  The total is only going to get worse, because I was very, very bad at Hancocks the other day.  I will have to find backings for about 10 quilts to wipe out that fabric debt.  When the parcel gets here I'll be equal parts shocked and happy.

In 2015 I used 126m, and bought 65m.  In 2014 I I used 170m and bought 138. (Really!! 138m!!) So in the last two years I've used 296m and actually decreased the size of the stash by 93m.  (Those numbers include backings and bindings that I made and are stored with the tops.)  In a way it's impressive, but I could have done so much better in the buying department.  As in, not bought so much.....

It's Operation CleanUp here, I have to set the sewing room to rights before I start dragging more fabric out and making another mess.  I'm going to shift a few things around, just because I'm bored  and want to see something new.  It will be the same as the pieced border; I'll get halfway through and think it's a really bad idea, but I'll have to go through with it.  At least it will be easier to vacuum all the hard to reach place while I'm moving furniture.

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I spent a ridiculous amount of time today trying to choose borders for my Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt.  I pulled dozens of fabrics out of the cupboards and drawers, but nothing seemed perfect.  I even cut and pieced the strips from one fabric, but then I just couldn't bring myself to sew them on.  Mereth's stash was raided, and she gave her opinions, but I still couldn't make a decision.  Finally I chose one, and the strips were cut and attached in half an hour.  It's so annoying that it took me all day to sew on four borders!

 The light fabrics didn't photograph very well, they are more colourful than this photo.  The fluoro light makes it hard to capture the colours accurately; it's a daylight fluoro tube, which seems to confuse the camera. I will see if I can get a better photo down in the workroom tomorrow.

The bright Sister's Choice is finished as well, but I'm too shattered tonight to get it ironed and up on the design wall for a photo.  I'll do that tomorrow.
I have no idea what to sew next, I might just sew some strings together on the Tiffany treadle for some mindless sewing.

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

I've been sewing steadily away at my two projects, but neither is anywhere near finished.

 I attached two borders to the Sister's Choice, but there are still two to go.
 I cut twice as many squares as I need, so hopefully there will be plenty of variety; I need to make 3 strips of 40 squares each.  If I concentrated it would be done in an hour, I'm just not very focused lately.
My Scrappy Mountain Majesties blocks have multiplied since I took this photo; I need another 12 blocks and then I'll have enough for a decent size quilt.  I'm determined to just slap two plain fabric borders on them and call them done.  I'm fed up with pieced borders right at this moment.
In an effort to use up the bright fabrics I cut 4.5" strips; haven't decided on a pattern yet, but this is all that's left of most of my pretty modern stuff.  I'm thinking maybe something with rectangles, or big HSTs.   I have some eye-popping brights from a scrap pack, but they are destined for a Chinese Coins with black setting to tone them down a bit. I'm determined to get this stash fabric moving!

I'm loading up a new laptop with all my software, updating old versions and discovering what will and won't run on Windows 10.  It causes a bit of brain fade, all the serial numbers and passwords and user names just blur together after a while.  I'm not keeping up with technology, but I don't think I've been left completely behind.  I'm just trailing after it and whinging 'Why did they have to change Everything!!?' Just when I thought I knew what I was doing.......

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Monday, February 01, 2016

The weather has been most unusual lately, not like our normal summer at all.  It's cool and rainy today, and it's been more than a week since the temperature went over 40.  I'm definitely not going to complain, it's been lovely to have a break from the intense heat and dryness.  The rain is taking care of the garden, and excusing me from any outdoor chores, so it's a sew-day for me.

I don't think my plan of a double row of 2" squares was very clever; I sewed together all the pieces I had, and it made enough for 1 border.  It's going to take a lot more time than I thought; it's back to the cutting board this afternoon, amassing enough squares for the other three sides.

 I'm sewing them together in sets of five; each is 10" long, making it easy to calculate how many I need. I'll mix them up on the design wall so that I don't have all the same fabrics in one spot.  It's going to take a while. And I thought this quilt was as good as Done!
I quickly sewed together another 20 pairs of triangles and I will have to find time to iron them, and recut them for the Scrappy Mountain blocks.
I should need only another 10 pairs of squares after this, for a lap quilt.  Once I have them all on the design wall I'll decide if I want to make more of them in this collection of fabrics.  The block is so fun and easy that I could see me making another straight away, in blues and browns and greens.

Three years ago I planted two blood plum trees, and watched them grow, trying to be patient.  Last Spring they set their first fruit, admittedly not much, but for two weeks I've been able to eat a Satsuma or Mariposa plum, fresh from the tree.

It's been a delight; you would have to threaten me or my family with bodily harm before I'd eat a European plum, but Satumas are divine!  The Mariposa is there to pollinate the Satsuma, it's OK but not as good.  Hopefully next year I will have enough fruit to eat and share with family, before the birds realise there's a new tree on the block.

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

42 blocks joined with 1.5" sashing; they just need a border and this will be Finish No.2 for January 16.

I have heaps of 2.5" squares left over, so I'm going to sew them into a 4" border, then I think I will bind the whole thing in purple.
I sewed the squares as leader-enders while I put the blocks together, so I have most of them sewn in strips of four already; I just need to concentrate and get them attached to the centre. However, I really fail at working on one project at a time. 
I dug out a pile of fabric that wasn't on my Favourites list any more, and started sewing Scrappy Mountain Majesties blocks.  These are so fast and fun, they will just be a hiccup in my UFO list.  Once I've cut an 8.5" strip from these oldies there isn't much left, so it will be a wonderful stash-buster.

I've decided 2016 is Shake Up The Stash year.  I'm so tired of fabric that is decades old sitting on my shelves. Fair enough if it's unique, irreplaceable stuff, but so much of it is not. Shaking up the stash will mean getting rid of lots of it; I have finally admitted, after all these years, that I can't piece all of it into quilts.  That's just never going to happen.  I need to let it go to new owners, so there will be a lot of Ebay activity over the next few months.  On the other hand, I'm not going to have any No-Buy rules; I don't care if I replace all the fabric I get rid of.  The point is to alter the stash, add to my favourites, weed out the others, get a different mix of fabric to use as my palette in coming years.
I have '90s William Morris prints that are precious, so they can stay, as can that brown '80s print at the top.
This blue I bought when I started a new job in 1984; it was $1.99 a metre, and I bought 5 metres.  Only .5m left, but it's a sentimental favourite so it can stay too.

The brown fabric was bought when my DD was 2; she's 29 now.  It can go.
The pink stuff was leftover from making her a smocked dress when she was 7; it can go too.

Last year I really attacked several areas of the stash, in particular the blue and red prints, and there are big gaps in the drawers and shelves now.  This is a good thing. I can selectively shop for new fabrics, from new ranges, and my future quilts will have a fresh spark from the updated lines.  It's quite exciting to think of allowable shopping sprees! 

I can't imagine sewing a whole quilt from just one fabric line; the joy of choosing fabrics is in mixing 20 year old prints with new ones, rummaging through the stash to find the perfect colour, allowing yourself to use things that don't 'match'. Being downright brave enough to put odd fabrics together and bring the quilt to life; my choices make each quilt my own.


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Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm busy making bright, cheerful Sister's Choice blocks, and enjoying the happy fabrics.  I have 35 completed, and another 7 to sew together this afternoon.

 I keep going back to my usual favourites, but they are so dingy compared to these fabrics that I can't include them.  I don't have a huge collection of brights, so I'm having to use fabrics three or four times, and that feels odd.  My Repro stash is so huge that I never have to repeat a fabric unless I want to. 
I'm struggling with the layout.  I kept seeing quilts on Bonnie's slideshows that are set edge to edge, and I wanted to make a quilt exactly like that.  But now that the blocks are on my design wall I want to fiddle with setting. 
I really dislike putting blocks right next to each other, all those seams form lumps and bumps that I'm not a fan of.  And all that cream irritates me for some reason.  So I tried a little sashing strip, just to see what it would look like.
I love this batik, but I don't have enough.  I have to start buying batik yardage, not just FQs.
I have many metres of this aqua/green print, and it's really pretty next to the green and purple blocks.  The coral and yellow blocks seem brighter next to it too.  I think I've decided to use 1.5" finished sashing; that will solve the problem of too many seam allowances in one spot, and it will bring even more colour into the quilt and the cream areas won't bug me anymore.  Sometimes the things I hate about a quilt have more effect than the things I love; I keep changing things until I don't hate it anymore, and then I discover that I love it after all.
There are lots of leftovers, so I need to choose another pattern to sew these into.  I'd like to completely use up a lot of these fabrics, and then I will be able to go shopping for some lovely modern prints.  I'm certainly shaking up the stash lately, and it's been fun.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I don't really feel like getting stuck into the UFOs right now.  I feel like cutting up huge swathes of fabric and stocking the empty project boxes with new pieces.  It's mad to ignore all the existing projects, silly to pull out stacks of fabric and cut more and more strips, insane to plan three new quilts.  But it's also fun, and the only thing that's keeping me in the sewing room lately.
I've cut the background pieces for 35 Sister's Choice blocks,


and I've made four complete blocks (just to test my measurements).

Everything is spot on, so I can get busy cutting up scraps and kitting up the 56 blocks I want to make.  They will be set edge to edge, no sashing, so it will be a decent size quilt but not enormous.  56 blocks should make a dent in the scrap containers.

I'm going to make all the star point units first, then all the nine-patch centres, so it will be simple to use the pieces as leader-enders.  It's what makes Bonnie's mysteries so easy to put together; all the units are made, it's just a matter of arranging them into blocks and sewing them together.

When I was visiting Mereth's sewing room I saw some brown nine-patches lying on a scrap of the blue fabric I used for my Sister's Ninepatch.  The blue and brown looked wonderful together, and I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.  I really miss having nine-patch blocks ready to sew, and the obvious thing to do was to start cutting up brown scraps.
I went through the stash drawers and pulled out anything that was smaller than a FQ, or anything that was seriously old and needed to be dealt with.  The cream and white fabrics have blue prints on them, and are another section of the stash that needs to be whittled down.  A few pieces were sent through the Go Cutter, subcut into squares and I sewed up a trial block.
This is going to be fun.  At the moment I don't know whether I will keep making larger blocks like this, or if I will just set the 3" blocks with the blue fabric.  Can't stop to make decisions, got to keep cutting while the mood is upon me.  And to think I used to hate nine-patches!
I've written these new projects into my spreadsheet for 2016; my project tally is 23, not so many after all.  I think my goal for this year is to finish 16 tops, which sounds perfectly reasonable this early in the year.  It's a fun number to aim for anyway.

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Sunday, January 03, 2016

This morning I photographed some of my UFOs and sorted out the boxes and labelled everything.  It certainly helps to know exactly how many there are, and where they are.

 
I had this many project boxes,
but further investigation showed that three of them only contained collections of fabric for future projects; I found small tubs for the fabric, and now I have three empty boxes.  While I'm cleaning up I will probably find more UFOs tucked away, so there will be a home for them in one of these square boxes.
    1. This floral Stack&Whack is ancient, about 12 years old.  It would only take a day to finish the rest of the blocks, I should slot it in between bigger projects.
    2. Urban Abacus - this is something I'm really looking forward to, it will be one of the first projects I work on this year.
    3.  Batik Squares - not really a project yet, just cutting squares and stockpiling them for the next batik quilt
     4.  Madder Stars - had these on the design wall last year, and put them away for when I need a quick finish.  They are stacked in rows and ready to put together.
    5. Album blocks - ongoing project to use up reproduction scraps.  Love these blocks, but I don't feel in any hurry to get these into a quilt.
    6. Blue and green rosettes - sewing paper pieced hexies hurts my hands, so these will be made into runners or cushions, a little at a time.
     7. Tiny Nine-patches - these were made with charm squares last year, and I have a lot of them made.
    I ran out of charm squares, and other things took precedence.  I'll have to get back to these, they were a lot of fun.
    8.  Octagon blocks - I have all 30 made, just need to organise the sashing. And come up with a name for the blocks.
    9. Pretty tumblers - started cutting these on a whim, and when I have enough I'll lay them out on the design wall, then stack them in rows next to the machine and use them as leader enders.
    10. Red and blue sampler blocks - I'm enjoying them, but have no idea where I'm going with them.
     11.  Blue and brown blocks - I adore these, don't know why I stopped sewing on them.  I have heaps of pieces cut, and the sashing already in the box.
    These should be high on the To-Do list.
    12. Not really a project - all the scrap ends of 2 & 2.5" strips, sewn together in long chains.  These will make scrap borders or sashing one day, but for now they are leader-enders.
    There are other projects around, but these are the ones in the boxes on display.  The other UFOs are hidden away, and they can stay that way for now.  I have plenty to be doing already.








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