Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Eve

 I hope everyone has a blessed and wonderful Christmas. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, then I hope you have a lovely time too. I'm off to spend some time with the family; Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.


21 finishes for 2021

 Here are the tops I managed to finish this year.

Antique blocks, Carolina Chain, Meadow, Autum Sisters, Scrap Chain. 

25 patch, blue Boxy Stars, blue mini star, red and brown Boxy Stars, Floral Stack'n'whack. 

Bricks and Stepping Stones, Granny Squares, Log Cabin and 2 Urban Abacus tops. 

Tulip, Paintbox, Spinning Rectangles. 

Madder Stars, Double 4patch, 2 & 4.

Not a bad effort. Here's to a productive and happy 2022.



The 2&4 top is finished, and it's my 21st finish for 2021.

I was going to put borders on it, but then decided it was a nice size for a couch quilt just the way it is.

Of course I have leftovers, but they are like a starter kit for another one of these, so I'm just packing them away for a while, till I acquire some more red and blue scraps.

This is my spreadsheet for the year. I only managed to quilt one top, which is pretty sad, but there was so much going on that I didn't get near the machine. I did quite a few customer quilts, but my own tops continue to stockpile.

I'm not going to continue to up the game each year (30 tops in 2030?), but I think my goal for 2022 is 22 finishes, be they tops or quilts or pillows or slipcovers. I really would like to quilt some of my favourite tops at last.


Thursday, December 23, 2021

 Christmas is upon us once more, and it totally snuck up on me. Of course I've been aware of it's approach, but I'm still stunned that it's now 2 days away. I refuse to get my knickers in a twist about gift-giving and buying too much food, and rushing from place to place. 

I went down to Adelaide 10 days ago, and babysat while Shonny ran various Christmas related errands without the boys. Then it was Isla's last day of school, and that was momentous. A whole year of school, done and dusted. Looking back at the photos I'm taken aback at how young she was. She was only 4 for the whole of the first term, such a tiny thing.

I brought Isla back with me for a visit to the Pirie relatives, and that was a great success. Even if I forgot to get a picture of them all together. 

It had it's moments, with 4 little girls arguing over various things, but we managed to sort everything out. There was a brief tussle over who would have the pink plate at each meal, but Isla decided that she could be the bigger person and let one of the twins have it. I always say, 'Pick your battles', and she opted to let that one go. Very mature, lol.

We did some sewing and made Christmas ornaments from felt and card and perle cotton, and it was a wonderful visit. Seonaid appreciated just having two boys, and I loved having just Isla. 

Once Isla had been dropped back home I could go back to what I was sewing 2 weeks ago.

Lots more QSTs, just experimenting with fabrics to see what will work best in these little units. 

I'm working on the red and white ones, I'd like to have all those kitted up, and then I can play around and amass the others over time. I'm making them a tiny bit bigger and trimming them down to size. My eyesight is getting worse, and it's just easier for me to be trimming things down right now.

I'm stalled at 20 tops for this year, and I just need one more to make my goal of 21 in 2021. The 2&4 project is the one I'm most likely to complete, so I'm working on that fairly frequently. I need to cut more red and white 2.5" squares, so I'll tackle that first thing this morning. Then it's just a matter of getting all those blocks in one piece and deciding if it needs a border. I'll probably be staying in Adelaide for the week between Christmas and New Year, so I want to have this done before I leave. That's about the only pressure I'm willing to deal with right now.


Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Another Start

I couldn't resist drawing that British quilt in EQ8, to work out what size those QSTs should be. The original quilt used a 3" Hourglass block, and the quilt measured 93". That's too big for my bed, so I needed to find a size that worked better for me.

2.25" gives a 74" quilt, and 2.5" ones make a 82" quilt. 

An 82" quilt would make a full bedspread on my double bed, which is fine, but I need to see both sizes of QSTs before I make a decision. The smaller ones can be cut from a 3.5" square, so I could use strips from the scrap drawers. The bigger ones I would have to cut from a 3.75" square, so I would have to cut all new strips for that.

I made up a few last night to see which I prefer.  The blocks are made of the smaller Hourglasses, and there are 3 in the 2.5" size underneath.  I still can't decide, so I'll have to ponder it for a few more days. It will definitely be a long term project, so no need to rush into it. 

The original quilt was quite easy to draft up, the little Hourglass blocks are set in groups of nine. If I just concentrate on making the blocks for a quarter of the design it will go quickly, then I can focus on the next quarter or have a rest from it. I'm going to have to keep the value of the Hourglass blocks lighter than the red ones so that red crosses show up against them. I will probably end up with a few rejects; some fabrics that I always thought of as mid toned looked too dark when pieced. Some fabrics that I always regarded as light looked quite dark when chopped small and put with a paler fabric. 

I've always thought this print was really light, but it actually works really well as a medium value in these little blocks.

It's a good thing that Hourglasses are one of my favourite blocks to make.


Saturday, December 04, 2021

A Busy Day

I started the day in the workroom, quilting a customer quilt. I don't do many these days, because I'm away so much, but we need to clear the decks before Christmas, so that we can do some of our own quilts over the break.

The neutrals are very pleasing, it all went smoothly.

While that was stitching, I was putting borders on the Scrap Chain. I was good and measured and pinned; usually I just sew the strips on, but this was so heavily pieced that I wanted to make sure the borders  were right. 

Sewing, sewing, sewing, in between attending to the quilt on the Statler.

And now it's finished. It just won't photograph properly, it looks all washed out but it's not in real life.

The border is an ancient floral, a Nancy Gere one I think.  It's looks beige in the big photo, but it's actually a greeny-tan.  The phone camera doesn't get the colour right, and if I spend time fiddling with it then I won't be doing any sewing while I try to work it out. Near enough is good enough.
On my coffee break I flicked through some books and was taken with this British quilt. That's a lot of QSTs, but it would be a good way to use up some strange fabrics I have. I've got them set aside for an 1800s, English style medallion. I think they'd work in this really well. I just need to find a red for the blocks that make up the cross, and work out the size QST I need. I don't fancy making a 93" square quilt like the original, so I'd better have a play in EQ8. I would add that it would be a good leader-ender, but we all know how those go in my sewing room.....


Thursday, December 02, 2021

A little diversion

 Last night I was getting the fan for the sewing room pulled out of storage, because all of a sudden it's HOT, when I spied a plastic box that I hadn't opened in years. Wot's in there? I wondered.

It was full of bits from a giant scrap project from 2005, when I cut most of my 'not-good' stash into 1.5" strips and sewed 9 quilts in various patterns of my own devising. It took months, and of course I didn't really love the quilts because they were made of fabric I didn't really like, so I sold all of them. Now I wonder why I didn't just sell the fabric and spend those months sewing quilts I loved. 

Anyway, I sorted out all these bits and pieces, resisted the urge to sew them into blocks and start another scrap-disaster, and spent the evening joining the 4.5" & 3.5" bits together to make piano key lengths. 

I should have measured what I rolled onto the cardboard tube, but it was 5 lengths of my ironing board, so a fair length. 

It's going into the basket containing the scrap strippy quilt I started in March this year. Looking at these fabrics I think they may have been genuine scraps, there are some old favourites in there.

There's a heap of these little 2.5" units to sew into blocks, which I'll do soon. I'm thinking YUK when I look at these, but the fabrics aren't that hideous, it's just the way I put them together. I'm very much in favour of planned scrap quilts, I'm never happy when I try to do random scrappy.  

These blocks aren't doing it for me, definitely made from some unloved fabrics, but I'll put them in with the orphan blocks for now.  And there were some blocks that were so ugly I put them in the bin. Done and dealt with. 16 years is long enough for anything to lurk in a cupboard. You can't rescue everything.


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Scrap Chain Progress

There has been progress on the Scrap Chain, and now there are only 4 seams left. 

It's a bit unwieldy, but it has gone together really easily, all 285 blocks. There are so many seam intersections to match, which is tedious, but it also means that I can fudge in the few blocks that are a  little too big or small. I have no qualms about making a tiny pleat over a seam if it means the finished top will lie flat. A darn good pressing fixes many little bumps and bulges. Next up is choosing borders, and that may take a while. The top is surprisingly light coloured, and most of my border choices are dark. I need to dig deeper into the lighter browns and greens.

And..... because I can't do leader-enders properly, this is half of the 2&4 quilt sewn together. 

I was tired when I got home from Adelaide, I stayed a few extra days to help with appointments and school stuff. When at last I sat down at my sewing machine I just wanted something easy to send through the machine, so I sewed all this together. I  really like how it's turning out, and for once I'm being truly scrappy with my fabric. I usually have one of 2 reactions when I sort through my scraps for a particular project. I might say 'Oh this is too good to use in this' or I might say 'Ew, that doesn't go with this at all'. 

But this time I'm really trying to use up whatever is red and whatever is blue; precious, yuk, or merely OK, it's all getting cut up. I actually think I might have enough to start another one, but that's not a problem. I think this pattern is great for donation quilts, so it may end up being a permanent leader-ender. If I can just train myself not to sew it all up at once.


Monday, November 29, 2021

A big shuffle

After I'd shifted furniture, packed away fabric and projects, charged the drill and found the correct size screws, it was the work of moments to attach the leg of my table again and make sure all the other legs were secure. 
But then I had to put my room to rights again. And that took a heck of a lot longer.
I turned this...
into this.
All the bolts were put back neatly on the shelves, and the projects boxes labelled at last.

By stacking it all in front of my design wall I ensured that I would have to finish cleaning up before I went back to sewing.

Everything is so much cleaner and more organized than it's been in years. Once I had most of the shifting and cleaning done I turned my attention to the strips of fabric still hanging over the edge of boxes and on the rack and tried to make sense of it all.
There were lots of strips that were draped over various surfaces, just waiting to be filed in the correct drawers.

All this was actually on the table when it collapsed, so I sorted it out into strip sizes. 
And from there I dumped all the scraps out of various containers and cut them into useful sizes. 

When I'd finished I had these and many more empty containers, and the strip drawers were nicely restocked. And I gave away a pile of scraps to Mereth, who never says no to any scrap, large or small.

I know I should do this after every project, but I'm always so keen to get onto the next good idea that I just set the leftovers aside in a tray or basket and forget it. 

It was really therapeutic to vacuum thoroughly and deal with the mess, and now I'm ready to get some sewing achieved. Fingers crossed that I keep my workspace tidy (or tidier) from now on. 

PS; RobinaS, I would love to reply to your comment, but there is no email address on your profile. Would you be able to email me instead...?


Saturday, November 20, 2021


 I did quite a bit of cutting last night, kitting up another 8 Jacob's Ladder blocks and cutting pieces for the Boxy Bowties.  I was planning what I would cut next when.....the leg of the table fell off. I hadn't planned on that!

To be fair, this laminex table is older than I am, and has been wonky for quite some time, but I didn't expect it just give up like that. Luckily there's a cabinet underneath that stopped it falling over, but sheesh, talk about a surprise. If I were the least bit sensible I would go buy a modern table, but this table is part of our family. 

It sat on our enclosed back verandah, and was the designated spot for anything messy. We rolled out plasticene on it when we were little, spread paper and crayons all over it, did jigsaws every summer, cut out dresses and sewed them in our teens. In fact, this is the table that our vintage hand crank sewing machines sat on when we were about 10, as we learned how to use them without sewing through our fingers. So it has to stay.  

Today I'll have to deconstruct the sewing room and clear enough floor space so I can turn the table on it's back and screw the leg back on. I think that is going to take most of the day. I know I said the weekend was going to be messy, but I didn't mean this. Good thing I sewed for hours last night on the Scrap Chain; I saw the cutting table mishap as the universe telling me to buckle down and do some work on it.

It's a big job, but I've only got 24 little blocks left to sew into sets of 4, and about half of what's on the design wall is joined into bigger sections. I can't guarantee that I'll get it all done today, but it's well on the way to being in one piece. Then I'll have to choose borders, and I don't have the slightest idea about that. Yet.


Friday, November 19, 2021


 I am all over the shop with my projects. I just can't settle down and sew one thing for more than half an hour.  I think maybe I have anxiety about the sheer number of things I have going; I'm trying to make progress on all of them at once so that I feel better.  And it's not working!! I'm being made more anxious by all the piles on the cutting table. Sigh...

I needed to make a few of the Jacob's Ladder blocks to get the cutting and pressing locked in.


I needed a leader-ender while doing that. 

The 2&4 was handy.

Then I saw all the Boxy Bowtie pieces and thought I should just throw together a few more blocks so that project didn't completely stagnate.

Up to 9 blocks so far.

Wasn't I working on the Scrap Chain blocks too?

A few more added to the tally.

Now I need to cut more pieces for all these, except the Scrap Chain, and somehow keep track of all the cut pieces and the scrap leftovers, and the bits for the string pile. It's going to be a messy weekend.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

I didn't have a lot of time to sew these blocks, I had a customer quilt to bind and those borders on the Meadow top took forever.

I got six put together, making 27 all up.  I need 99, so I'm almost a third of the way there. But what are those blocks beneath?

I am being inundated with red and white scraps. What I don't use in the 2 & 4 top are going to be cut into 9" Jacob's Ladder blocks. I don't often make 2 colour quilts, but I need to get these red bits under control. I'm going to go from shirtings to dark butterscotch with the light pieces, to give it a bit of movement, and I hope that will help clean more scraps out of the neutral scrap drawer. Once I have that whittled down, I think I'm going to choose a heap of neutral FQs from the drawers and run them through the AccuquiIt using the 2" strip die. It will be lovely to have a whole drawer of fresh neutral strips waiting to be used. 


Sunday, November 14, 2021

A long overdue finish

Last week I showed this pile of strips, ready to be turned into borders for the Meadow top.

I kept putting it off, because I knew it would be difficult. The blocks were on point, and it had been hanging on the rack since January so the edges were stretched. I always use quarter-square triangles at the edge of on-point quilts, but that doesn't completely tame all that bias. I really wasn't looking forward to this.

I ironed the top and measured it  in 3 different places and transferred those measurements to the red strips. I pinned and pressed and coaxed those strips into the right place, so every square still had it's point.  I almost never take that much trouble over my borders. Then I went to all the trouble of mitering the corners of the wide border, and this was my reward.

2 WOF strips weren't enough to do the long sides of the top. I had to piece in a separate bit, and make the pattern look like the patch wasn't there.  I was really regretting things by this stage.
But it's finished, (no.19 for this year) and I'm happy with it. And I resolve to never again leave an on-point top hanging on a rack for 11 months....

I pulled out this project for some light-hearted sewing. It's time to move it on from just a pile of blocks and bits.

I'm going to sew this lot into sets of 4, and try to get it finished before I wander off to a brighter, shinier project. The end of the year is approaching, and I would like to achieve my goal of finishing 21 tops in 2021.

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