Thursday, March 14, 2019

Before I left I was determined to get all those boxes of scraps sorted into piles and stored correctly.  It took hours, and I was more than a little sick of it by the end, but I persevered.  I reduced the containers to this; 2 boxes of genuine strings, and two boxes of pieces to send through the Go Cutter and cut into strips straight away.

There were lots of small pieces that I couldn't decide on right away, so they are now stored in those wire baskets against the wall, waiting for me to come up with a project to use a few of them.
I stopped using Bonnie's Scrap User system a while ago, but recently it's occurred to me that it would be good to stack the strip drawers again.  Not with 2.5"strips, because I rarely use that size, but the 3.5"and 1.5" drawers would be really useful.  I seem to use those sizes all the time, and it would be great to have a stock of strips at hand.  The 1.5" strips can be cut with the Go Cutter, and I will use the Shape Cut to do the 3.5"ones. 
 After I'd cleared the surfaces I tipped out two huge tubs of orphan blocks, and tried to stocktake what I have. 
A LOT, is the answer.  Most blocks aren't orphans as such.  I always make too many blocks, so I can pick and choose what goes into the finished quilt, but I didn't realize how much of a habit it was until I saw them all in one place. Some blocks are singles, but most are multiples. How many quilts are in this bunch?

I sorted them all into piles, then bagged them in plastic bags with a note saying how many blocks, and sometimes the size.  It took hours and hours, and I can only wonder at what makes me make 7 extra blocks for nearly every quilt.  I guess I must like sewing them, if I have that many spare.
 The yellow box on the left contains the blocks with the most multiples, the black box is small blocks and units that I can build bigger blocks out of, or use as fillers if I do an Orphan quilt.  The orange box is all the single blocks.  It doesn't look like much, but it's a big stack.  Not in this photo are all the really big pieces, that measure around 24"square.  I can use them as the centres of medallions, or finish them as small quilts. I'll pull them out later when I have a bit of spare time.

And I found two small pieces, that are already finished.
This one used to be in a frame, but I took it out to quilt it and never got round to it.  It's all fussy cut from one border stripe fabric.  I might just put it back in a frame, I don't know that quilting would actually enhance it.

This one is a miniature copy of a quilt, from an English book I think, I'll have to rummage around and find it. The little four-patches are only an inch across, I had fun with this.  It will definitely benefit from being quilted, and displayed on a doll's bed. 
It will be an afternoon's work to get this finished.  Strange how some things just never get dealt with, until finally it's done in no time at all. 

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I had to turn the light out in the sewing room just when I was getting enthusiastic about cleaning up, and drive off to Adelaide again.  Shonny is doing a course on Events Management 2 days a week, and I like to time my visits so I can help her get off to school.  I get the kids up, feed and dress them, do Isla's hair and Shonny can just concentrate on getting herself ready.  The kids go off to daycare, and I'm free to drive allover town running errands.

Yesterday I put 100 km on the clock, driving to the other side of the city to drop my machine off at the repair shop.  They had a wall of secondhand machines that were waiting for repairs, it was so interesting to see about 50 vintage machines on the shelves, I love the old styles.

Two repair guys had a chat about what was wrong with my 6500, and the consensus was that I'd killed the motor with overuse.  :(  The good news was that they would simply take the old one off and bolt a new one on;  the part would be ordered straight away, and as soon as it arrived it would be done.  How much work has it done? one guy asked, and when I told him they both went all wide-eyed, and said I needed an industrial machine.  No thanks, I can't cart an industrial machine around, they weigh a ton.  However, when I go back to pick up the machine I'm going to try the new Juki that is about to be released.

Also, they told me to bring in my Beloved, the Singer 538, and they'll see what they can do to get her running again.  They have a heap of spare parts, and I could see from the wall of vintage machines that they are familiar with the old girls.  I'm so glad I decided to take my machine to them.

Today I'm staying closer to home, I'll just visit a couple Op-Shops down the road, and do some cooking so that Shonny doesn't have to think about dinner.  I love being able to help out, and I love catching up with Isla and Thomas, so I don't miss my sewing room.  Then when I go home, quilting is my consolation for being apart from my family. It all balances out.

It's still not completely Autumn, we're facing a return to 39° temperatures next week.  102° F doesn't spell Autumn to me.
The garden at home is producing a few little flowers, before I left I picked some geraniums and blue plumbago to put in a little jug. It's a tiny bouquet, but it's cheering. When it finally cools down there may be another round of roses, which is something to look forward to.  When it's cooler I can tidy up the garden beds and discover exactly what has survived this horrible summer. 

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Enough Already

I went through my sewing room yesterday, and put away every FQ or piece of yardage that was sitting on my tables. Some of the stacks were from 4 quilts ago, and I'm just terrible at cleaning up before I start the next thing.

 Look at it!. Stuff everywhere, and no rhyme or reason to it.
That's my sewing table there; I'm now sewing on a little 99K, as my 6500 is displaying an error message again.  I'll take it to the people in Adelaide this time, and find out exactly what is wrong with it. But dang if that little black machine doesn't sew like a dream.

I really enjoyed Mary at Country Threads tour of her sewing spaces, here & here. And Connie's here & here. I love seeing where people sew, and what they have, and how it's stored. I trawl through Pinterest looking for ideas, but so many of those spaces are just for photography.  They're pristine and colour coordinated, with some really dinky ideas on storage. One picture was titled, Ideal Way To Store Scraps, and every little piece of fabric was clipped to a rail on the wall.

HaH!! Those aren't scraps; THESE are scraps.






Bear in mind that I have made two quilts from scraps recently, I've cut up heaps for my strip drawers, I've gifted many baskets of offcuts to Mereth, and I wage war on scraps every January, and this is what's left.

I've spent a lot of time working around all this clutter, and it's time I said 'Enough already!' It's OK to have all this scrap fabric, but it's not OK to have it stored in 17 different make-shift containers.  It's not OK to stash it in a cupboard and forget it even exists.  It's not OK to search high and low for something, and find it days later inside one of those piles of fabric.  

It took nearly all of yesterday to put away the FQs and yardage, and label every drawer so I could find things more easily.  It will take most of today to sort out those containers so that something can be done with the scraps, and there will be hours of decisions and cutting and labeling after that.  But I have to start somewhere, and I'm not dismayed.  It feels good to actually be tackling the problem, instead of ignoring it.

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Saturday, March 09, 2019

String Finish

I decided the other day that I wasn't leaving the workroom until the borders were on the string quilt, so I got to it.  It was 8pm when I turned the machine off and threw the top onto the design wall.  I didn't even trim the last border strips after I ironed it, because I was a bit tired and wanted my dinner.

The lighting makes that pink around the outside look dreadful, it's much lighter in real life. 

I'm pleased to have it finished, and pleased that it used up a pile of strings and that dark cheddar fabric.  Now I need to choose a backing, and hopefully it will also be something that needs to be used up and moved on.  It's a good feeling when something finally makes it's way into a project.

I'm glad that this top and the scrap one before it are done at last.  I feel like I haven't sewed on my other projects in months; in actual fact, I've been stuck on those two for two months.  I'm going to dig out another project and make some blocks and forget about the strings for a little while.

That will be after I finish cleaning up my sewing room, though.  It's a fright.  And I'm actually going to show photos....

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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The weather has been lovely this week, and I'm celebrating by rearranging the furniture in my sewing room.  I don't know why I have these compulsions to shift every last thing in there, but it's a regular occurrence.  Having done that, I have to clean up the mess I created, and then get used to the new set-up, including the fact that I always lose something in the process.  Oh well, it's a hobby. On the plus side, I always find something that's been missing, so it all balances out.

I haven't been able to sew much, because of the furniture shifting, but this afternoon I took the scrap quilt down to the workroom and vowed I was going to finish it.  It took till 8pm, but I did it. 

While I was sewing on the third border I did question the wisdom of pieced borders.  They involve a lot of extra time and effort, but the result is usually worth it once they're finished.  It just doesn't seem a great idea when there's a long way to go.
But it was finished in the end, and I threw it up on the design wall, with two other quilts behind it, and called it a day.  I'm happy with how it turned out, it's very light and pretty, not at all what I imagined it would be.  But it's a nice surprise.

Next up is borders on the scrap quilt.  The blocks are in one piece, and I really like how it looks.  I have to choose a pink and a red fabric for the borders, so that will be the next job.  I'm o glad to have a finished quilt for the year, and maybe another one within the week.  Good progress!


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Monday, March 04, 2019

A NewToy

 I'm collecting blue and green fabrics to make a chevron quilt, and bought a new toy to help with all that cutting.
 I've wanted one for a while, but couldn't really justify it to myself. However there was a sale, and cheap postage, so I splurged.
It's not just for cutting strips,there are other ways to use it, so I justified the expense.  Maybe I need to call it an investment, which makes it sound wise and virtuous, instead of indulgent..
I cut up a few FQs into 2 x 4 bricks, and it was so quick, very simple and easy on the eyes and hands.  Of course, there is a risk of cutting things wrong and making costly mistakes, but I'm sure I'll learn to double check every cut.
 There was very little waste; 8 cuts and I had 32 bricks to add to the collection.
I also sub-cut some 1.25" strips for the little Puss In The Corner blocks, and kitted up another 50 as Leader-Enders.  Then I cut nine 2.5" strips for a binding, and it was so easy. I was pretty impressed with what I can do with this ruler; I'm thinking that it will also be good to cross-cut strips when I'm strip-piecing 9-patches.

I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of this, especially paired with the strip dies from the Go Cutter. I don't have the 2.5"strip die, I don't have a problem cutting bigger strips like that and I really don't use that size much. This will let me cut that size easily, with a lot more choices for sub-cutting.

I really need to find fast ways to cut kits for quilts, with a minimum of fuss, so I can quickly get back to sewing.  My free time seems to get less and less, and anything I can do to streamline the prep means more time for the actual sewing.

It's a lovely cool day today, only 25°, and I turned my front room upside-down, sorting and cleaning.  It's been shut up against the heat for months, and it's wonderful to let the light and the fresh air in.  I'm really hoping our hot weather is over, the cooler temperatures give me an energy boost to get on and get things done.  I want to see some progress around here.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hand piecing Progress

Last year I began a hand-piecing project, to work on when I'm away from home.  That was all of a year ago, and I've not made much progress.  When I'm in Adelaide I'm too tired at the end of the day to sit and stitch, and the daytime is totally devoted to the grandkids.  Don't want to miss a minute of them.  So my sum total is one block, incomplete, because I haven't decided what colour I want those corner squares to be.

I'd also pieced the centre of another one, but when I went to sew those halves together I realised that I'd fussy cut from two separate places in the fabric, and they didn't match.
The pattern on the fabric is mirrored on alternate stripes, and I didn't realise that when I was tracing the templates.

Then I lost the fabric and couldn't cut new ones, so nothing more happened.  But yesterday I came across the fabric, in a very unlikely place; who knows why I dumped it in that box instead of putting it in the right place. I found a quiet moment  and, with much concentration, I cut the needed pieces to complete both black stars..  Fussy cutting has certainly slowed this project down; brought it to a standstill more like it.

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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Nearly done

I've been sewing late into the night lately, in an effort to make progress on my scrap-busting project.  I can remember sewing on the indigo and pink version all those years ago, and thinking 'This is taking forever!! Why can't I get to the end of this thing!!!'  And that is exactly what I'm thinking now.  I've put an awful lot of hours into this top, and it's creeping towards a finish.  It's only 65 x 74, I can't understand why it's taken me so long, and then I remember that they are tiny pieces, and I got diverted by the string quilt, and there's all the usual life stuff going on as well.

I stayed up til 2am last night, in an attempt to get it in one piece, but I had to call it quits, with one last seam to go.  The end is in sight, and then I can start on the borders.  I'm tossing up between a pieced border and just plain fabric; it will take a while to try out the options, so I don't think it will be done today.  But I can move onto something else.
The string blocks are all made and just need to be joined together, then I can start auditioning ideas for borders for that.  I gave Mereth a box of leftover strings, as a starter for a string quilt for her.  She doesn't have boxes of scraps like me, because she cuts scraps into useable shapes all the time.  I've tried that, but it doesn't last long, then it's back to chaos again.

We seem to have a lot of old cots around here, and I deconstructed a vintage one to make a rack for my blocks and ironed fabric. I also have the base of a modern cot to play with, it's a bit wider.
They both need a coat of paint, but that won't happen while it's so hot.  They're proving to be useful, and take up very little space.  Pinterest is full of ways to repurpose cots; in my day cots lived forever, always being passed on to another family, not cut up to make chairs and planter boxes.  I suppose back then no-one was really sure there would be no more babies in a family, so you had to have a circulating cot for the next child.  (And we didn't buy $1000 cots either.  I feel very out of step with the latest generation sometimes.)  But those old cots are unsafe and illegal to put a baby in, so I guess at least they can live out life as a hallstand, or fabric rack :)

Linking to Humble Quilts Stringalong

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Stocking Up on Triangles

My determination to sort out my stash saw me going through scraps and the stash drawers lately, and setting aside bigger scraps and those bits of fabric that are only an eighth of a metre.  They just clutter up the stash drawers, and make things untidy, so I'm on a mission to use them to restock the triangle containers.  I use triangles all the time, in 1", 1.5" and 2" sizes, and it's easier to make progress on a new project when there is a stash of triangles already waiting.

I cut up a heap of fabrics today, and now I'm sorting the triangles into stacks as I watch TV.  It's a nice repetitive chore, very mindless, and I can actually watch the TV instead of listening to it.  It's a nice change of pace.
I need to cut even more dark 2.5" triangles so I can start work on this Country Cousin quilt, which was a leader-ender last year.
I used up all my triangles making the North Wind quilt; I need to add more so that I have a good choice.  I'm including black fabric in this, and shirtings, so it can use up all the black scraps that I don't usually include in scrap quilts.  It's nice to have a place for them at last.
 I've uncovered even MORE boxes of scraps, as I dig right down to the bottom of my storage containers. This happens because I love cutting, I don't like to put things away, and I hate making decisions.
Every time I go to use my scraps I think, Oh this is really nice, I should save this for a Good Quilt.
Every quilt is a Good Quilt, surely.  As I sort through all these scraps I'm putting aside the ones that I hesitate over, ones that I don't want to 'waste'.  They're all going into a separate drawer, all in together, and then I'll choose a pattern and Use Them Up!!!

  I should have 'Out of sight, out of mind' embroidered on a T-shirt.  All these hidden scraps are certainly driving me out of my mind.

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

This morning I tidied up my strings, and thought rather smugly that I was using them up really well and that soon there wouldn't be any left.  Should have known better than  to come to a conclusion like that.  I was looking for something in a stash cupboard, and found a box containing my real strings; crooked pieces from straightening up fabric, last little bits from fabric long since used up, leftovers from backings and borders, scraps gifted to me by friends, strange bits from op-shop scrap bags.

It's the mother-lode of strings/scraps, and I should be grateful to have lots more variety in my blocks, but I realise now that one string quilt won't take care of all this lot.  I'm going to have to choose another pattern to make after this one, if I want all those strings gone.
It's really good that I found a heap of wide scraps, because I can use those as the corners of my squares.  There's also a pile of bigger pieces that I will cut down into smaller strips, or maybe triangles even.  I have a die that has strips in 1", 1.5" and 2" widths, so I'll send the wide strips through the Go Big, and have an instant string collection.  Anything I really like I'll cut into triangles and stockpile them.
Even this panel for a stuffed toy will be used; it came in an op-shop bag, and I've cut out the printed bits.  I'll put the text instructions into my box of words and letter fabric.

Leah Day had an interesting post on cleaning up, and being more organised, something that I need to address in my own sewing room.  I think this need to deal with the scraps and strings is part of my own feeling that the lack of organisation is getting in the way of quilting, or even enjoying my quilting.  I'm quite determined to concentrate on this until I can see a difference, and once I've dealt with the clutter, the sewing should be a total pleasure again.  At the moment I"m blocking out the mess, and only seeing what I'm working on, but it will be wonderful to walk to my design wall without tripping over something or having to move something.  I am Committed!!

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

I'm just back from a trip to visit the family in Adelaide.  I was only supposed to stay 3 days, but it's so hard to leave, especially when Isla begs me not to go home and wraps her arms around my neck to make sure I can't make a move for the car keys.  She loves having me there, I'm her private audience to listen to all her songs and stories, whereas Mum has to take care of the house and baby as well.  Being a Nan is a very important job these days, making sure that Isla doesn't feel left out. So I stayed 5 days instead.

I was so sewing deprived that I made another 10 string blocks as soon as I got home, staying up way later than I should have.  I'm trying to put the blocks together as I make them, so I won't have a huge assembly job at the end.
I'm still really enjoying them, though the mess is reaching colossal proportions as the little snippets from the strings build up.  I'll put a heap of them in the bin this afternoon and tidy up the strings that are left and try to be a bit more organised.
I went a bit mad at Spotlight and bought a heap of clearance fabric; a lot of it is for a quilt for Shonny, so I'm excusing my extravagance.  It was all very cheap, $1 per FQ, so I picked up some bargains.  It's inspiring to have new fabric to add to the projects on the go.

I'm collecting blue prints to repair the quilt that DS Rhys wore out; I still haven't found the exact blue I want for the borders, but these fabrics will help replenish my depleted blue stash. 
I chose the material with 0s and 1s because it's binary, and Rhys' work is some complicated computer thing.  Full-stack Developer, whatever that is.  The damaged quilt was backed with fabrics depicting things he liked, Coke, dogs, fishing, tropical fish, WW2 planes because both his grandfathers were in the Air Force.  So now his involvement with computers will be on there as well, patching the holes he wore in it.

My sewing machine is ready to be collected, so I'll dash into town tomorrow and pick it up.  I'm not really desperate to have it back because I'm still immersed in the strings, but it will be nice to know it's ready and waiting for me to get back to my 9 patches.

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Thursday, February 07, 2019

String Project

I made a start on the string piecing yesterday, and I really enjoyed it.  I don't have to worry about an exact seam allowance, and the 631 just zips along.  We're getting on very well together.

I'm making this quilt, which is a little photo in a very old quilt book. 
I think I chose this quilt to do because I had a length of this rusty orange, and I wanted to use it up.  I rarely use solid fabrics, so I'm hoping that this will behave nicely and make me braver about  using solids in future.  There's no place to hide your mistakes, those pleats and puckers that happen sometimes; I love plain colours in antique fabrics, and I have a stash, so it's time to start including them.
The mess isn't bothering me much so far, but I know that after a while it will irritate me so much that I'll have to pack it away.  That's why I want to get as much done as I can before then.
I sewed 8 blocks before I stopped, and I'm still full of enthusiasm.
This last picture makes me happy.  Firstly, my last surviving rose made it through that really hot day, and is even blooming.  Second, there are raindrops.  We had a spot of rain and it was very welcome.  I'm glad summer is giving us a rest from those awful temperatures.



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