Monday, January 28, 2013

I didn't mean to have a quiltathon this weekend, it just turned into one.  I was organising and sorting and cleaning up, and then, suddenly, there was a new quilt on the design wall.  I remember thinking that
I would  '..just use up these triangles' and before I knew it there was chaos and uncontrollable sewing.

In my clearing away I uncovered a pile of 6.5" squares, and they were what made me choose to make the little churndash blocks.  I've been moving those squares from container to box to shelf for more than 5 years, and it was time to deal with them.

I finished all the blocks yesterday, 50 of them, and it didn't take me long.  The HST were there already, and so were the squares.  It took about 5 minutes per block to assemble them, but I also cut a few new pieces to put some more colour into the quilt.  I know that's madness, when I was trying to use up the scraps I already had, but I didn't want it to look dingy.  There are 4 blocks leftover, the colours didn't really fit in, so they can go into the orphan pile.
It took nearly all day today to cut the extra setting squares and assemble the blocks into one piece, but I'm really happy with how it looks, just the border to go now.  And look at all the empty containers!

I admit I didn't use up every piece, I just gave what remained to Mereth; she was happy with her little treasures and I was glad to see the empty boxes.  Maybe I should have given them to her at the start of the weekend, it would have meant a lot less work for me.

As leader-enders I used the 16-patches and the pinwheels that I sewed last week.  I made 10 blocks  like the one below, and they can wait for a home in a scrappy sampler quilt.  I'm sick of the sight of them right now, so a deep cupboard shelf is where they are going.
I now have 55 16-patches, it won't take much to finish that quilt; it's scary how many I'm churning out here!  Mind you, I don't sleep much, and there's definitely no housework taking place!  And the sewing room is now a complete shambles, so I will have to start all over again.  I don't think this cleaning up thing is working for me.....


Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26th is Australia Day, and because it was a Saturday the holiday is being observed on Monday, so we have a long weekend.  It's bliss on Sunday morning to know I have a whole extra day to spend at home.  I actually slept in till 7.40, which is 2 hours past my normal rising time, but I certainly appreciated the extra rest.  I hope to tackle the remainder of the day with twice my normal enthusiasm.

I did catalogue the contents of the wire backet, and this is what was in there;

 cross blocks
album blocks

a whole pile of sample blocks from quilts I started last year
 These Random 9-patches are the beginnings of more of the album blocks I think; who knows, I no longer remember what I was planning.  There was a lot more flotsam and jetsam in there, mainly pieces for more of the above.  I need to whip up some more of the blocks I like, and the extras etc can be filed with all the other orphan blocks, ready for that time when I want to make another Frankenstein quilt out of all these parts.  I've made three or four of those already, no enthusiasm for another one quite yet.

Before the end of the month I want to make a collage of all the finished quilt tops in recent memory, because I just make'em and stack 'em and forget'em.  Time to see what is there and what the quilting lineup should be.  It's been a long time since I quilted one of my own quilts, and that has to be one of my priorities this year.

If only I could stop the endless procession of new tops, I might actually make some progress, but the new ones are the fun part aren't they.  (I may have a new quilt on the design wall, I don't know how it happened.....)


Friday, January 25, 2013

 I was all set to do a long rambly post this morning, and thenreceived an invite for a day out with the brother and family, so I need to go and get ready for that.  The real world can't wait, a blog post can.

I did manage to finish the Plaid quillt top, and I lovethe way it turned out, even if it was a lot more work than just adding a few strips of material. 

It also cleared out a lot of those pieced strips, but not all of them, so there is another quilt brewing from the leftovers.  At this rate I won't get to my new fabrics until 2023.
Last year a farmer friend gave me 4 strawberry plants, who knows what variety, donated from a very old garden.  I don't really like strawberries, so four was plenty, until they began producing the most amazing fruit.  I eat these every morning on my rounds of the garden, and they are truly divine.  Luckily they produce as many runners as fruit, so I'm propogating every single one so I can have a huge strawberry patch next year.  I love my gifted plants, and I'll be passing these on to my friends as well.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm a bit sick of being bossed around by my patchwork.  I should be like Judy and plan everything out before I start cutting fabric. But that's not the way I work, so I will have to accept that I'm the sort of quilter who wings it at every stage.  I just wish the tops would be a bit more vocal about what they want, before I've made a zillion units that are just wrong for the quilt.

I made this top last year in January, determined to use up every scrap.  As if that were ever going to happen.  It seemed unfinished, I knew it needed a border, and needed to be longer and a little wider, but I was sick of it and left it sitting on the clothes rack for a whole year.
Then all the HSTs seemed to be the answer, and I made the mistake of thinking pinwheels was what the quilt said.   Apparently not, they were violently rejected as soon as I put them on the design wall.  But I made about 50!  And I was also mistaken in thinking I was just going to slap it all together no matter how it looked.  Muttering curses I went back to tthe sewing machine and my eye fell on some little blocks I'd put together and set aside; just 4 HSTs all in the same orientation.  Hmmm, I already had quite a few....

Well, they were just what the quilt was looking for, so then it was only a matter of making enough for the top and bottom borders, and attaching them.
  And we were all well pleased, except that I now have a stack of pinwheels, and there are still triangles to spare.  Sigh....

The next top to be dealt with it this Plaid one; (there are 6 spare blocks, but the quilt is big enough already, so looks like I'll be making another quilt in this pattern)
 I thought I could bully that into submission and make it accept the pinwheels, but it's not having them either.  It didn't mind some light-coloured pinwheels, but it wasn't fussed about them.  Didn't like the 1' squares either.
 That's when I opened a container and found all the rest of the strips that didn't get used up in the Strip Spiral.  I need an intervention for my over-cutting problem....

The Plaid quilt is delighted with the strips, so that's what I'll be sewing this afternoon.
After that, I need to catalogue this basket of blocks; all through the year, whenever I ran out of leader-enders, I'd pick a pattern and just make random blocks from scraps, anything, just so that I could feed the pieces through the machine.  Which is admirable I suppose, except now I have the beginnings of about 5 quilts in this basket, none of them planned, and some of them downright ugly.  I hope I've learned my lesson, and will use only designated leader-enders this year. 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but it feels like this picture is worth a thousand hours! 

I've been very good about not overdoing the sewing sessions, I've tackled this in little increments and never once got overwhelmed by it, or felt ill at the thought of going on with it.
 But it took ages, and I'll be very very glad to be sewing something else in the future.  Of course there are still the borders to tackle, but they will be the leader-ender from now on, and I'll be sewing something with a bit of Colour in it.  No more grey for a while!
I don't quite know whether to start something completely new, or go on with my plan to cut down the number of UFOs in the sewing room.  I want to splurge and fill up the design wall with something exciting, but then I also want to get those half-finished projects closer to completion too.  Guess I don't have to decide straight away, and I could make one or two 'Trial' blocks of patterns that intruige me, and see if any of them want to take centre stage.  Not another Major Project though, I need something frivolous I think.

I've sewn up most of the 2.5" triangles into pairs, and they are building into pinwheels for a scrap border.  Now that the design wall is free I'll be able to put them up there and decide on the next plan of attack. I still love these colours, but I've made an awful lot of quilts that look the same, so it's time to branch out on the next lot.   BLUE!  I need to use up my blues.

A trip to the local Patchwork shop resulted in a bit of stash acquisition; I was on a mission to get more creams, but nothing much appealed to me, all too yellow.  I finally succumbed to these ivory-whites from the Etchings line; 
I'm making it my mission to lighten up the stash, steer away from all the sombre reproductions that I love.  I will still buy them when I see something that appeals, but my shelves are stacked with them already.  With these fresher colours I hope I'll make some prettier quilts with a lighter feel.

It's been the most horrid day here, so hot that the air itself burns you; We're supposed to get a cool change tonight, which will be very welcome. The poor dogs don't like it at all.  Lucky there is air-conditioning to take the edge of the heat.  There won't be any walkies tonight though  :(


Friday, January 11, 2013

 I've been alternating between sewing and tidying, trying to do an equal amount of both.If I sew for half an hour, I have to tidy for half and hour.  I can see results, so it's worthwhile, but the tidying is bringing to light some bad habits of my mine.  Such as my overcutting problem, which has been well doucmented in the past. 

Instead of looking for things I know I've already cut, I'm just as likely to grab  new fabric and cut more pieces.  This works fine for me at the time, as I figure I've saved the time I would have spent trying to ferret out the old pieces from wherever I've hidden them.  But when I do the Big Clean, all is revealed.

Oh I thought, that's nice, I have a few 1" four-patches stockpiled.

There was another bigger box of them.

And some 1" HSTs too apparently.

And some more.

And then I unearthed the 2" cache;
and some more.

 I can't sew along with Judy's Quiltathon this weekend, as I have other chores that have to be done, but I've decided to sew all these bits into borders for two scrap quilts that have had me stumped for over a year. I'll have little scraps of time between my other work, and this sort of sewing is easy to pick up or leave at a moment's notice.   The boxes will be empty, the quilts will be finished, and I will have a whole lot more space in the sewing room. 

I guess it's pointless to say I'll never let the little bits mount up this way again, because I know I will do it.  But in future I should have a single place to put them, not scattered about the sewing room in 9 separate containers.  None of them labelled.  Mereth despairs of me sometimes......


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

I'm hoping to be more organised this year, which will allow me to achieve more things in a more orderly manner.  I get rather tired of racing around at the last minute, meeting deadlines with no time to spare, or not meeting them at all.  Time management techniques would help with that I'm sure, as would tidying things up so I can lay my hands on whatever I need.  These months of hot weather, when I'm confined to the airconditioning, should be spent sorting and ordering and organising, not just sewing and surfing the net.

Sorting out the rest of the house will be done because I must, but sorting out the sewing room is always a labour of love; finding things I've been looking for, meeting old projects again, admiring fabric and tools and patterns, getting inspired all over again.  I've already started, and it's fun so far.

Of course, while I'm sorting there isn't any sewing taking place, which is a bit frustrating.  So I've been making a list each night, of things that I want done the next day; sew six blocks, make strip sets for 5 new 16-patches, cut the remainder of the sashing strips.  In between my other chores I can switch on the machine and sew long enough to cross the task off the list.  It's working well, I keep the jobs small enough to do quickly and I'm not tempted to just keep on sewing until it's become a marathon.  I think my obsession with finishing what's on the design wall comes from not knowing where I'm going with it, or how long it will take, and also fear that I just won't finish it at all if it goes on too long.  My list of tasks for the day keeps me focussed on smaller steps, so that I don't start worrying about the actual finish line.

I enjoyed the paper piecing I did on the Dear Jane blocks, and decided I needed to have a machine set up permanently for paper piecing.  My Bernina 730 is perfect, her tension is wonderful even with really tiny stitches and it's easy to see the line on the paper.

 She's been making HSTs for this project, and they're turning out perfectly.  I must name this machine, she's a beauty.  Part of the reason why I'm sorting out the sewing room is to make a space for her to live comfortably, instead of balanced on the end of a rickety table. 

I'm trying to tackle this grey quilt in an orderly fashion, and when I use the project parts as leader-enders I get muddled sometimes.  I've been using the 16-patches to separate the chains of piecing on the grey quilt, so they are building up rapidly.
I'm up to 40 complete blocks, and 12 more ready to sew together.  This will be a set of blocks that just seemed to appear without any effort on my part.
I have half of the grey blocks sewn into rows, and only need another 6 blocks.  Hopefully I will have a photo of it tomorrow, nearing completion.  Then it will be time to tackle the borders, which in the original quilt were complex.  I don't know how my patience will last, but I'll have a go.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

It was a quiet New Year's Eve for us, a nice curry for tea, with panetonne for dessert.  Very multicultural.  We made a great list of plans for next year, but unfortunately just ran out of energy and couldn't wait up till midnight.  Oh well, we're not as young as we used to be.  Today is a different matter, I hope to get lots achieved.
 I'm very happy with how my grey quilt is coming along.  I love the sashing fabric and I'm so glad that I waited for it.  Now the quilt is going to be just the way I imagined it, and I don't get that nasty niggle every time I see it on the design wall.  Another victory for the little voices that tell me when a quilt is not quite right.  And because this is the second time I've started putting it together, everything is going so smoothly; I worked all the kinks out the first time, and these pieces are just flying together.  I just cannot decide how big it should be though.  I'd love to have it hanging on a wall, which means it shouldn't be too big, but I tend to favour Large quilts.....  Just can't make up my mind.

I've been sewing strata for my 16-patches, and have a lot of them stockpiled now.  I love slicing them in to strips and making the blocks, everything goes together so easily.  It's very relaxing sewing.

 I did a mockup in EQ7 to see how many 16-patches I might need, and for a decent size quilt the number is 72.  The blocks are so easy I could accomplish that in no time.
I've been pulling out boxes of UFOs and seeing what I want to continue with, and what needs to be abandoned.  It gets easier and easier to jump ship on a project, especially as there are so many that I'm much more enthusiastic about .  I still love these indigo Yankee Puzzle blocks, and they are high on the list to be completed.
  I have 30 of them kitted and ready to go, so there should be some progress on that very soon.
 These blocks are left over from the Jacks On Six quilt I made many years ago.
They are 9", quite large, so I could make one or two more, add a wide sashing and have a small quilt with not much effort.  Or I could put them on Ebay, so some other quilter can have fun with them.

There are 24 of these Log Cabin blocks and they are a longterm UFO; they need to have another two rounds of logs added, which is good leader-ender sewing).  I have boxes of strips cut for these blocks, and dozens of the 1" HSTs for the centres; I just need to start sewing them again.

I have so many project boxes, more than I thought, and it will take the rest of the week to document them and decide on their fate.  That's a good way to spend the first week of 2013, putting the house in order. 

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