Sunday, October 31, 2021

I tipped the contents of my scrap drawer onto the cutting table and sorted out a heap of shorter strips to cut up for Boxy Bow Ties. It's a wonderful pattern for using little bits and scrag ends that have been overlooked time and time again.

It really annoys me when strips end up frayed and resembling a centipede, and that means I reject these bits over and over again.  Not this time.  It's use it, or throw it out. It will only get worse if it sits in the drawer for another couple of years.

A big cutting session this morning used up that pile of strips, and left me with the background bits for 60 of the block quadrants.

I packaged them in ziplock bags, 4 to a bag. There's no order to this lot, I just wanted them corralled until I get the other pieces for the blocks cut.

I'll be going through the boxes of  squares next, looking for pairs, and then laying out the little blocks. I'm looking forward to that.

I've been ironing the scraps from the bags I bought on Facebook, and cutting them into red squares and blue rectangles. I'll have to raid my own scraps for the cream and white coloured pieces, which is a good thing.  It will swallow a lot of scraps, and it will last a long time as a leader-ender.
My pink cactus is one I grew from a little piece that I pinched from my FIL's garden, at least 15 years ago.  For ages the flowers were very modest and unassuming, but just lately they have really come into their own, with masses of blooms that last ages. They make me smile, remembering my second Dad and his beautiful garden.


Friday, October 29, 2021

My sewing room was in a state when I left for Adelaide, and it was still in a state when I got home.

One sewing table was filled with the remnants of the Urban Abacus projects, and what I'd pulled out to start the Boxy Bow Ties blocks.

The other cutting table still held the remains of the Carolina Chain top.

The ironing board was hidden beneath a pile of scrap bags I'd bought off Facebook on a whim.

Some of the scraps are seriously old, but still welcome.

I cleared  some space on the cutting table and cut up a few of the scrap bits and some leftover charm squares, to see if they could go straight into a  leader-ender. I was thinking of this one from KatyQuilts. (There's a link on the side to her Two and four QAL). I have lots of precut leftovers that could get swallowed up by this, and it's simple enough to be a good leader-ender.

That was fun, so I'm officially cutting scraps for this.
I cut up a few other scraps to make Spinning Rectangle blocks, and then cut a few more Boxy Bow Tie blocks.  And now the mess is truly overwhelming, so I'm off to clean up; then I will have a mammoth cutting spree. There are 27 projects on my UFO list, and I never seem to get it any lower. I suppose I'd better stop adding new projects.....


Sunday, October 24, 2021

2 Finishes

The Urban Abacus is in one piece, and I really like it. I enjoyed the curved seams, and I liked sewing slowly for a change. I made around 10 blocks a night, being very particular, and it was very different from my usual race-to-the-finish attitude. 

I even finished up all the sample blocks and sewed them into a little top. I might add small borders at the sides to make it wider, but that can wait. 
These 2 tops bring my total for the year to 18 tops, not a bad total. I'm going for 21 in the year 2021, and I just might achieve that. 
I've been resisting buying the pattern for Bonnie Hunter's Boxy Bow Ties quilt, but then I  decided my scraps needed a new project. I have a lot of these bright modern bits leftover from other quilts, and this pattern promises to use up a mountain of them. It's really cute. 


Monday, October 18, 2021

A change of direction

2 nights at the sewing machine turned the set of ugly blocks into a top at last. I'm not sure exactly when I cut these out, but it was about 10 years ago.

It's not as ugly as I thought it would be, and it will be a useful couch quilt, at 59 x 71". This is top number 15 for this year, not a bad effort.

I needed a change of pace after that. I didn't want to sit at the machine and just push pieces through for another quick finish, and I didn't want to start something new. I ended up pulling out this UFO from 2015.
I bought a kit from Connecting Threads, because I had no modern black and white prints that would be suitable. 

The instructions say to make 5-10 practice pieces, but I couldn't leave it at that and started making 'practice' units for a small quilt. These were listed in my UFO chart for the last 6 years, and they weren't even supposed to be a project!  I really think I've got this down pat by now, but I'm sort of committed to making about a dozen more in these fabrics.

But I started cutting up the kit fabrics last night, and made a few blocks to be going on with. I love the tealy blue background, and I love the modern black and white fabrics.
It's so much fun working with these prints. I don't know if I'll keep sewing it, or maybe cut all the fabric and put it back in the box.

I'm just having fun right now, and that's what's important.


Friday, October 08, 2021

Carolina Chain finished

 So much for kitting it and leaving it on the shelf.  It's a finished top, in a little over a month,and I spent two of those weeks in Adelaide. It was a stressful month though, and these little blocks kept me sane.

It looks lighter in the photo than in real life,  and I'm really pleased with it.

I originally thought this pink would do for the setting triangles, but it just looked washed out. I only decided that after I'd cut out all the pieces I needed. First I cut them for a 6" block, realised my mistake, and then cut them for a 4.5" block. So I have 2 sets of setting triangles in this pink that can wait in the drawer until I need them.

This pink is much redder and sets off the other colours nicely.  It's very old too, so I'm glad to have moved an ancient piece out of the stash. With this piece, I cut setting triangles for a 4" block first, I don't know where my mind was that night. There was juuuust enough fabric left to cut the triangles for the correct 4.5" blocks. I have 3, three, sets of triangles in the drawer now.                 

A recent visit to the doctor showed my oxygen levels to be stubbornly low.  I'm blaming my brain fog on that.....


Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The End Is In Sight

My project boxes are full of blocks, there are 5 that just need me to arrange the blocks on the design wall so I can start sewing them together. It's been months of just making blocks and stashing them away, and now I need to begin the big job of finishing them. I showed you the Scrappy Mountain Majesties yesterday; I decided I need another 30 blocks to make it more than a lap quilt, so the box goes back on the shelf while I make the rest.

The Scrap Chain blocks are all done, all 285 of them.
I really enjoyed making these, but I'm ready for them to be finished.  I'll put them on the design wall to make sure all the darks and lights are evenly distributed, then sew them into blocks of four gradually. At some stage in the future I'll concentrate on joining them into the final arrangement, but I don't feel any pressing need to do that right away.

That's a big stack of blocks.

And then there are the Carolina Chain blocks that Mereth and I started in the first week of September.  We both agreed we just wanted to kit them and leave them on the shelf, but she's had better luck with that than me.  I just couldn't help but sew them in batches of 20, they were so easy and fun.

I'm probably one sewing session away from having all the blocks sewn into fours, ready to arrange on the design wall.  Some projects just don't want to wait.

Then there's my pastel Tulip blocks,that have been waiting patiently for me to sash them together.

I really like them, but I hate working with white fabric. There, I've said it.  I hate having to be so careful watching out for anything that might leave a mark, and worrying whether the seams will show through, I'm going to have to find a reel of white cotton for the sashing seams and clean my whole sewing table so the dust doesn't contaminate my precious project. Every little blemish makes me wish I was sewing something more forgiving. At least my usual repro fabrics embrace the dust and coffee drips.

Recently I rediscovered this pile of blocks made from a lot of Judie Rothermel fabrics that I received from her fabric club.  Some are authentic, but ugly, and I made a pile of them into these blocks.  I also used nice ones, to dilute the ugliness, but it didn't work.  I've never been able to get these into a layout I was happy with, so they still languish in the cupboard.

This time I'm going to do something with them, no matter what. If it's ugly, I don't care.It will at least be done.


Monday, October 04, 2021

A Continuing Project

I have a box of 8.5" squares cut from fabric that I'm not particularly attached to. Mereth and I call these Expendable fabrics; nice enough, but we don't care if we use them all up, either in quilts or to test out ideas. We're not going to mourn using the last scrap of them. The box is leftover from a Scrappy Mountain Majesties quilt that I made in February 2016, and I thought I would just make a backing out of the squares and be done with it.  But I sold that first quilt, and now I'm thinking I'd like to make another one, so I'm working on those blocks.

I love it because there are several stages involved, and each of those stages involves a different level of difficulty. There are times when I really need an easy task to perform, something that I don't have to pay attention to. My vision is worsening as my cataract develops, so triangles aren't my friend anymore.  I tend to do a lot more trimming down of things now, instead of relying on my judgement while sewing.  But I'm just adapting to that as best I can, knowing that cataract surgery is getting closer.

To make the big HST I draw a diagonal line on the light squares.  In Bonnie's pattern she cuts them into triangles, but I sew either side of the drawn line so I don't have to handle long bias edges. It's an easy task to sit down and draw all those lines, when I feel sort of lazy and don't want to stand at the cutting table.

Then I pair the light squares with dark squares. Again, it's a nice lazy thing to do, sitting down when I feel weary. I pin them together and stack them next to the sewing machine, ready for when I feel like sewing them. Because they will be trimmed to size later I don't feel any great need to be super accurate at this stage.

Cutting them apart and pressing them is another mindless job, which requires no great attention. Trimming them to an accurate 8" square is a job I save until I'm ready to concentrate on what I'm doing and I'm not too tired to see the markings on the ruler.

Then I layer the two pairs as in the pattern, and cut them apart. Again, I do this when I'm feeling alert and ready to concentrate. Don't want to ruin it at this late stage.

There are pieces for 15 pairs in this tray, making 30 blocks.

My last trip to Adelaide was a long one, I was desperate to get back to my sewing machine. Even though it was late, I immediately sat down and sent this lot through the machine; it felt wonderful! I had to leave pressing them till the next day, because it was very late by that time. But early the next day I had a pile of blocks to add to the box.

I love this block because it looks so fantastic in the finished quilt, don't think I've ever seen a bad one. I love all the different steps, which I can tackle whenever I'm in the mood. I love that it makes some pretty bleh fabric look great, and that it's so easy to put together.

So I've decided that I will always have a box of 8.5" squares ready to turn into these blocks.


Sunday, October 03, 2021

Stash Upheaval

I have so many projects that need a lot of blocks, and I've been content to work on them over months and just amass them slowly.  There are 5 set of blocks that are ready to go on the design wall so I can work out the final placement and fine tune the colours and tones. I'm actually excited to get started on that, but I had another project going that left me unable to get to the design wall.

My stash drawers were in a horrible mess. I've spent years just throwing things back in there without any attempt to sort them or organise them.  Any new fabric was put in whatever drawer it fitted in, so there were three drawers of miscellaneous fabric that I totally forgot I had. Enough! I put a folding table up in the only available space, in front of my design wall, and started pulling out drawers to sort.

It took a few days, and I had to force myself to stay on track, but finally it was done. I was a bit shocked at the results. I have No Browns. No Blues! Nothing!!

These are all the blue FQs.  I know, I've made a heap of blue quilts over the years, without buying more (because I had so many anyway) but I didn't think I'd depleted them this much. I need more medium blues on my next shopping trip.

These are all the purple FQs, not very many at all. Again, I've made a few purple quilts, but I didn't think I'd made such a drastic reduction. 

The blacks and greys are really slim pickings. Absolutely pathetic. And yet I have 10 drawers of neutrals; white, cream, stone, sprigged, shirtings, beige.

It highlighted how I've been buying fabric in the last few years. I get overwhelmed looking at all the beautiful ranges, I don't know which one to buy for future projects. I can't buy them all, that's beyond the budget, so I buy good old neutrals, can't go wrong with them. And I've got this myth in my head that I don't have many, so I need to stock up. I need to change that thinking.

Another thing that has changed my buying has been the lack of 1800s reproduction fabrics in the shops I've visited. I know there are repro ranges out there, but a lot of the time they're not in the shops here.  Or they are in the $28-$30m range, and I can't always afford that. The English repro ranges like Di Ford's are really popular here, and I love them, but can't afford to stock the stash with them. Buying online from the US isn't really an option, by the time postage and the dollar conversion rate is taken into account it's not much cheaper.

What I can afford are the cheap FQs from Spotlight.  I buy them when they are on special at $1 or $2, but they are rarely anything that would go in a reproduction quilt.  
That has resulted in 3 drawers of modern and bright fabrics, which I'm happy to have for cheerful kids quilts, but they aren't anything I'm passionate about.
I'm glad I took the time out from sewing to rationalise my fabric storage and get a handle on what I have.  I'm a bit disappointed at the conclusions I came to though. My stash is being overtaken by fabric I don't truly love, which makes me sad. 

I think I'm going to start a savings fund for a bit of Stash Enhancement.  When there's a respectable amount there I'm going to blow it all on fabric that makes me truly happy. It's a plan....

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