Wednesday, March 08, 2023

It's not that I haven't been doing anything in the sewing room; it's just that I haven't felt like blogging. I'm very much being in-the-moment, and that sort of precludes taking photos for future blog posts. I'm unapologetic.  My blogging mojo will return, and I'm not going to hurry it. What have I been up to in the sewing room?

I'm going through my boxes and drawers filled with spare parts, extra blocks, trial blocks, failed projects. What sparked this was the completion of the red Jacob's Ladder blocks. I HATED them. I mean, I loathed them and couldn't even bear to look at them. So I sold them on Facebook, along with a few other UFOs that I was never going to finish. The response was amazing, they were snapped up, and I felt good that they were going to new homes. So then I looked at my other bits and pieces to see what else could go.

It's been interesting, going back through decades of leftovers and false starts, and maybe-oneday pieces. My over-riding emotion was, I don't want to make quilts like this in the future. I don't want to make them Now. So the decision for most of it was easy, I've been sorting it into piles, photographing them, and they will go on Facebook too. I don't think I'll miss any of it.

Look at all this blue flotsam and jetsam. I have made an awful lot of blue quilts, and that led to an awful lot of extras and orphans.

2.5"strips. I really dislike 2.5"strips.

A box of2.5"squares. See comment above.

Ugly 3"HSTs.

Random blue 2.5"squares sewn together, plus many HSTs..

Even more of them. Why am I like this?

I took those bits and more, and sewed them into this little top. 

I had to make a few more of the little HSTs, but other than that it was all just sitting in boxes. And now it's not. Yay me. But I'm not quite ready to tackle the other bits that I decided to keep. They can mature in the dark a little longer. I've whittled them down to one underbed box, admittedly crammed full, but it's much better than it was. Once I clear the decks of all the clutter I think I'll do some something fun; I've had enough of sewing stuff just because I should.


Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Slowly does it

I'm still not feeling the love in my sewing room. There are other things I want to be doing, like sorting and de-cluttering and re-organising the rest of the house. I feel guilty that I'm not making progress on any of the 30 projects I have underway, but it's not making me spring into action.

It took 2 sessions to sew the last 10 Jacob's Ladder blocks. I sewed all the parts into sets of three one night, then made the blocks the next night. I have never made so many mistakes, one after another. The seam ripper was smoking. The blocks have to be sewn in two different layouts, and pressed so that the seams all match. I just couldn't get it right, I couldn't keep it straight in my head. Even when I thought I'd nailed it, I'd go to press it and find a triangle was tipped the wrong way, or I'd sewn a row on upside down. So that might be another reason why I'm not particularly keen to work on this. But they're finished now, and they can spend some time back in the box because I've had enough of them for now.

I want to do a bit more on these blocks next. I have 16 made, and 30 kitted. I even have the sashing cut for them. They will be a whole lot less complicated than the Jacob's Ladder blocks. And it's my favourite colour combination, so I will be a lot more enthusiastic when I sit down to sew.

I think my philosophy for organising/decluttering is, Look in ALL the boxes. Especially the ones that haven't been opened in a decade.

These scraps were in a box with some templates from a Sunburst quilt that I finished in maybe 2002. I've always thought that I'd make more of those blocks, so I kept the scraps and templates together. 

These came from a drawer filled with miscellaneous bits and pieces, I have no idea why I put them in there.

Now they are 2.5" squares for my scrappy project, and I have zero regrets.

This was in another box, that I discovered shoved out of the way on the floor. I started collecting these weird landscape and foliage fabrics when I dreamed of making a Ruth McDowell inspired quilt, 2 decades ago.  I have absolutely no desire to do that any more, so these are going to be stripped up, probably for another Ladder quilt. It's time I introduced reality into my quilting decisions, and re-purpose the bits I've had squirreled away.

My squirrels are not new projects that divert me, they're the bits I've stashed away and never got back to. I've been hoarding these things unquestioned for far too long. Time to say goodbye, clean out and move on. 


Sunday, February 05, 2023

First Finish For 2023

The other day I cut the borders for the Scrappy Mountain Majesty top, and applied them. 

It seemed to take forever, my inner teenager was moaning and complaining, Do we HAVE to do this? And the answer was Yes, we do have to, so pipe down.  It must be because I haven't finished anything for a while, but it seemed to take longer than usual. But it's done now, and I even have a backing prepared.

I sewed all the 4-patches for the Jacobs Ladder, and I even made a few blocks, but again, my inner teenager is rolling her eyes and kicking rocks around and telling me how boring it is. I know the answer is to start something new and shiny, but that doesn't solve the UFO crisis in the sewing room. I need room in the project boxes so that I can get the current projects housed, and hopefully have room to start some new ones.

These leftover blocks from my Scrap Chain were going to become a new quilt, until I read the notes attached to the original quilt and saw that I had planned to use them to extend the backing.  Why didn't I remember that? The memory is failing rapidly.

I needed a few more units, so I went hunting through my boxes, and came up with this.

And this.

So that was simple, to put together some more blocks from these ready-to-use components.

I made 9 blocks, and I plan to space them across the back with strips of fabric between, to give me a strip 8" x 80". I have a rough idea of what I'm going to do, but I may need even more blocks; good thing there are plenty more parts available.

I liked this completely scrappy one so much that it's in the ideas file, for when I'm looking for something new to start.
I've done 4 jigsaws in January, and this one was awful. It's old, and the whole thing was so out of focus I had no idea what most of the pieces were. It's going straight to the op-shop, to torment some other unsuspecting person.I should put a warning label on it.


Tuesday, January 31, 2023

A Slow Start In The Sewing Room

I've been busy since the start of the year, working on the computer, visiting family in Adelaide, bringing Isla home for a 5 day visit, and another stint in Adelaide, babysitting and catching up with everyone. Even if I had time to sew, I didn't really feel like it. I guess I just needed some recovery time.

I had no idea what I should do first, so I just sewed together the pieces for the red and cream Jacob's Ladder.  

Then they were pressed, and sat on my cutting table for days, waiting for me to cut the pieced strips into units for 4-patches

And now I've done that, so I suppose I should get busy and sew them together.  Soon....

I went through some boxes and sorted out things that had been untouched for more than 10 years. Actually, these boxes fell off a shelf, which was a drastic way to get my attention, but it worked. I threw out some ancient pieces that I didn't want to finish, tidied up a lot of papers, and made a few decisions about some old samples. I used this book to teach classes after the beginners had completed their basic class. It has some lovely patterns, and introduces new techniques in easy steps. But I never finished this demo block.

The quilt is one I still like, I should put it on my Someday list.

The block was fun to sew, but for now it's going in the orphan pile. I'm thinking it might be fun to do it completely scrappy.

Then I found this pile of blocks leftover from my Scrap Chain quilt. I'm going to sew then into blocks of 4, I bagged them up and they're next to my machine, waiting till I feel like tackling them. I need a few more, so I should cut pieces for that as well. Soon...

And then I saw these blocks.

I have a bad habit of not sewing the corner triangles on blocks, it just slows me down, so I leave it. Then I have dozens of blocks to catch up with, and I don't like that either. I cut a heap of the little triangles, and I've matched them up with each block. and I'll get them sewn on in between other tasks.  Then I have to trim them all.  I'll get to that, soon.

With all this other stuff to do, why did I pull out the 2" modern strips that I was working with in 2021? It's not as if I don't have enough to do anyway. But I wanted to work on reducing this section of my stash, and starting with the strips seems logical. I'm going to make little 9-patches, and decide on a pattern later.

When Isla was here she graduated to using the machine entirely by herself. Previously I've sat with her, controlling the foot pedal and giving her advice on what she's doing. This time, after some more pointers, I let her do it all. She was so good, keeping the machine at a steady pace, adjusting the fabric to sew a straight line, keeping her hands in the correct spot to control the fabric. This machine, that belonged to her great-grandmother, doesn't have a needle up/down button, and she was very careful to always turn the flywheel to position the needle in the up position. She never once unthreaded the needle by mistake; I've taught plenty of grown women who never mastered that little skill. 

I was so impressed with her; she can be headstrong and impulsive, but she can also concentrate  and work really hard at doing a good job. She made a laundry bag for her clothes when she visits, and several small bags for her pens and pencils. I think a pillowcase will be our next project, and maybe a patchwork cushion. I taught her mother to sew, but Seonaid was never really interested in doing much with it. I'm loving teaching Isla, she's so eager to learn, and I hope I can pass on my love of fabric and quilting. She's the only one that would be interested in my stash!


Friday, January 20, 2023

2022 Finishes

I finished 11 tops in 2022.

Top left, clockwise: Maymont baby quilt, Ladder, Blue Ridge Beauty, Boxy Bowties, Big Dipper

Top left clockwise: Nearly Vintage Stars, Remnant, Double 4patch, Home Country, 

Then there was the British Frame quilt and the other commission quilt which I can't show you just yet.

I quilted 11 tops in 2022.

Top to bottom: Many Trips Around The World, Blue Bargello, Stairstep cot quilt, Teal scrap cot quilt

British Frame Quilt, Antique Cross, Shirt Rails, Double Ninepatch

Maymont cot quilt, Paintbox. 

Being as I can't show you the commission quilt, you'll just have to take my word for it that it was the 11th quilt. I did want to have 12 finishes for the year, and contemplated quickly quilting a runner, but I just didn't have time in the end.  I'll try and do better this year. 

I'm not going to make any grand plans for this year, but I intend to keep on working on the UFO list, which currently stands at 27 projects. I'm considering altering my plans for quite a few, and making them smaller so I have a better chance of finishing them. Once again, I'll aim for 12 finished quilts this year. I would have been able to quilt a lot more of my tops if I hadn't had so many interruptions, so I'm hoping that I can stay more focused. Onward!


Thursday, January 05, 2023


 The end of 2022 is just a blur, I don't even have photos to remind me of what went on. I was super busy right up until I left to go to Adelaide on the 22nd, and once I was there I was laid low with a dental abcess. Luckily I got to see a dentist on the Friday and got it all seen to. The offending tooth was cracked, no saving it, so it had to go. Christmas lunch was very subdued, I couldn't eat much, but yay, I didn't put on any weight.

We had a full house Christmas morning, the kids were so excited and it was lovely to see them enjoying their new toys. 

It's true though, they enjoy the big boxes just as much as the toys in them.

Seonaid and I started our Christmas puzzle and I read a few books over the next few days. A couple of long time friends came to visit, it was lovely to catch up with them. One I have known for 45 years, which makes me feel old. We were so young when we met...

The temperatures were quite hot leading up to the New Year and the kids were happy to cool off in the pool. 

It's too tiny for the three of them, I can see we'll have to invest in something bigger for the rest of summer. They had fun, even thought they were crammed in there.

Ice blocks for everyone afterwards, they were happy campers.

It was all very relaxing. I stayed till the day after New Year, and I would have stayed longer but I have work to do.. Darnit!

I walked into my sewing room and couldn't even remember what I was up to when I left. I've been tidying up and sorting out the mess, but I'm not really in the mood for much sewing just yet. I was really surprised to realise that I'd sewn 60 of the Scrappy Mountain Majesty blocks together, more than half finished. 

I've been sewing the remaining 40 together a few at a time, and I'll have that in one piece later today probably. So I could have an early finish for 2023, if I can find the energy to sort out borders.

I'll find some photos and do a collage of what I finished in 2022, but now I have to go do some of that work. Darnit!


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Back to Scraps

I'm on the final stages of my commission quilt, and soon I'll be able to get back to my own projects. Except Christmas is only a few days away, so I won't be doing much before I head down to the family in Adelaide.

I was working on Scrappy Mountain Majesty blocks before I got sidetracked, so I finished the blocks that I'd started. That's 26 new blocks, 

all nicely ironed and waiting to go onto the design wall.

It's going to be very scrappy, I usually try to control the colour scheme, but this time I'm using it all. I have 138 blocks now, and I usually use 100 for a good size quilt. Whatever is left over will be the beginnings of another top, and I still have lots of squares in the box. It's one of my favorite patterns to make, especially when I'm rushed for time, or stressed and needing some mindless sewing.

I dug out a hand piecing project last week, and discovered that I can no longer see to thread a needle. That made me sad, I've been threading needles effortlessly since I was 3 years old. I have some clip-on magnifying lenses that I use when I do cross stitch, so it looks like I'll have to wear them for all my hand work now.

A stack of Periwinkle blocks need to be pressed; I've been making these for about 8 years. I'm still only halfway to the 35 blocks I need. Talk about slow stitching!

I just remembered this strange needle threader I bought a few years ago, when I didn't need it, so it never got used. It does work, so I'll put that in my hand sewing kit from now on.
I'm glad that my glasses mostly still work, and that I'll be getting my cataracts seen to next year. The inconvenience is temporary, and if all else fails I'll crochet something with chunky wool to keep busy.

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