25 January 2015

High Tech, Low Tech

I wish I could just write *insert witty opening line about not having posted in years here* and have one appear but, alas, life doesn't work that way. Instead, it moves on and before you've realized it has been two years since you even looked at your blog. Go figure!

My quilting has been much slower lately. Since my last post (seems ages ago, really!) my left shoulder hasn't improved, unfortunately. I have had two surgeries on said shoulder, which has put a big damper on rotary cutting. I'm now still dealing with that shoulder's issues (how am I this broken? I'm still in my 20s!) after I fell off my bike on ice and landed squarely on that arm. My latest MRI shows that I have what appear to be small tears in my rotator cuff and possibly some scar tissue growing through some of the tears. I'll find out in late February if I'll have to have another surgery.

I had resisted getting a Go! Cutter until a couple of months ago, when I finally decided that enough was enough and I was being utterly ridiculous. I bought the Go! regular with a 2.5" strip die and a 1.5" strip die (the value die came with it but I haven't used it yet). I love it...absolutely love it. It's easy to use and I get so much more cutting done. Up until fairly recently I had been able to do some rotary cutting but was noticing that I was having more issues with reliability of those cuts. I'd slip at the end of the cut and it would be just a little too big or a little too small, but usually enough to swag and make it work. Getting the Go! has completely eliminated that issue for me, and my 2.5" strip bags are quite healthy.

I haven't had any issues with the fabric being distorted with my cutter, though that could have more to do with the fact that I'm using the strips and not any of the shapes. One of the rubbery feet on the bottom of the center of the cutter has fallen off, but mine gets folded up and moved around fairly often so I'm not too worried about it. I wasn't expecting how much static electricity it produces, but it's not really a problem, just a minor annoyance. It might happen less during the more humid summers, we'll see.

Lately I haven't been able to rotary cut at all, though, so I've gone back to the old days of quilting...drawing lines and cutting pieces with scissors. The Go! cutter is great for making me strips, but I don't have every die and when I need a 2.5" by 6.5" rectangle I can't make it with the dies I have. Rotary cutters were around when I started quilting, but the nice lady who taught me (whose name, unfortunately, I have forgotten some 15 plus years later) was a template woman. She had somewhat opened to the idea of a rotary cutter to add a seam allowance but she would trace her template and then use the rotary cutter to cut .25" away from her line. She and I both hand pieced back then, so the line was necessary to know where to sew.

I became an Auntie recently and, unfortunately, that quilt is still in progress and a secret. I've got another neice on the way soon but her quilt is only a few blocks that are now on hold since baby Quiche's quilt backing finally arrived (names obviously changed for privacy!). The quilt is not quite halfway done with the quilting.

My most recent finish has been for my friend's baby. Baby J-kwelin (it's an inside joke) was born in September and I was able to finish her quilt in time! Her nursery colors are yellow and gray. Her quilt was Bonnie Hunter's Jack in the Box pattern, 4 by 5 blocks with .75" sashing.

Don't look at my messy buffet behind the couch...

And the obligatory shot of the label on the back...
It was a fun little quilt to make. My blocks were a good chance to play with color theory a bit. I found I am not very good at finding "light orange" in my stash, since those color combos invariably didn't read well value-wise. I also started playing with varied neutral backgrounds, though I'm not as relaxed as Bonnie is (each block had the same background, not mixing and matching like Bonnie's quilts usually are...also, all stayed well within the tan color family). I quilted it in rows since the blocks had been made over a long period of time and weren't exactly the same size.

My other finish recently was for baby Jorgito. He was born in August and he's the most serious, studious baby I've met. I used string blocks for his quilt; his nursery was green and brown, hence the color scheme of the quilt!

Oh's my couch again!

I love the backing fabric.


The binding for this quilt was actually leftover bits from Baby S's quilt a few years ago. The brown/orange/blue/green/yellow stripes really looked nice with the colors on the front of the quilt. I had just enough of the stripe (in the direction it needed to go) to do this quilt with about 8" leftover. Stash for the win!

That's enough for now...wrapping up with a link back to Judy L's fabric report! Nothing finished so I can't count anything used yet. Drat! By way of explanation: all added yardage is backings for the two neice quilts. My goal is to use 50 yards this year.

Used this Week: 0 yards
Used year to Date: 0 yards
Added this Week: 4 yards
Added Year to Date: 7 yards
Yards to Goal: 50
Net for 2015: 7 yards added

14 September 2012

Is this my home?

I'm home. Home from my business trip...but it still feels a little like I'm not. What does home mean, really? After all, while I was on my business trip, home was my tent. My tent that I shared with 9 other girls who didn't know the meaning of quiet, especially when closing the door. Home was the hoodie that I brought with me and slept with every night...the hoodie my husband gave to me when we were in college after it shrank in the wash.

My first night home, so to speak, was spent at a friend's house since I wasn't allowed to drive for 24 hours (boss' orders). Me, her, her husband, and her two boys...I was still home even if I did have a really hard time figuring out the shower (hey, don't blame me - from MY height, the plunger thing to make it a shower was totally hidden by the temperature control knob).

Then I came home. But it still feels empty, even with me here. It's quiet, and I keep music or a movie/TV show on most of the time. And this IS home for me...but what is home? I don't think it's a place...although this is the place I keep my fabric and sewing machine, where I know what's in which kitchen cabinet and where things are in my messy but somewhat organized wardrobe.

Home isn't a building, folks. Home is a mindset. It's more an emotion, I think, than a place. I've never understood people being homesick for where they used to live, whether it's Mom and Dad's house, or a town that they've always been in. Maybe I'm just lucky that I moved around enough as a kid to realize that home, whether it was in one state, town, or country, or any other place, wasn't this place on a map. Even on sleepovers as a little kid, I wasn't homesick (at least not that I can remember!). Home was my family, my place to be comfortable, my place to relax.

So whether it's my tent on my business trip, my friend's house, my house, my parents' house, or any of the houses I grew up in, home truly is, as they say, where the heart is. Please smack me now, that was totally and utterly cheesy and corny, but it's what's on my mind.

Just because I've been away for a while doesn't mean that I've totally given up on my sewing. I've been sewing as much as possible since I've gotten home (though that isn't as much as I'd like due to some issues with my left's hard to hold a ruler in place to rotary cut if you can't push down hard enough) and I did work on a secret hand-work project while I was away. I can't post any pictures of that for now, but I can leave you with a picture of the first completed block for my next baby quilt! I'm using the Story Time Stars pattern by Bonnie Hunter, with a few tweaks of my own, of course. I haven't totally decided on my sashing or setting yet, but I'm loving the concept!

The center of each star is a crumb block (I don't have many novelty fabrics) of a secondary color. The points and background of the stars are the two primary colors that make up that secondary color. Kids are never too young to get some color theory! I've finally made a dent in my crumbs now that I've made six center blocks of each color (so I can pick and choose which blocks I like for the quilt). The added bonus? I'm finally moving into using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. Some day, I hope to be as successful with it as Bonnie...but until then, I'm happy with my tiny start of 2.5" strips left over from cutting the pieces for my stars!

Please don't judge the photography, either - it's getting late and I want to get this post up tonight so I took the picture with my webcam (hence the soft focus and odd angle). Just wanted to give ya'll an idea of the cuteness of a crumb secondary color center with primary outsides...I want to squeal, I think it's so adorable! Plus it's great at using me on this one!

Good night, dear readers, and I'll hopefully be on here a little more often again. Hopefully. :) After all, 12 babies who need quilts between last month and March? Sheesh...maybe not so many wordy posts, but plenty of quilty picture goodness! Please hold me to that!


26 April 2012

Perspective and other such things

I haven't posted here for a while. It's simply become a habit not to. But I need to vent for a minute, and while this probably isn't the best way to encourage readers to stick with me (especially since I've been gone for what seems like forever)...I need to get this off my chest.

November was when I last posted. It seems like years ago right now. If you've read this blog from its beginning (or read all of my ever-so-many posts), you remember that my husband was gone (I didn't mention it outright in every post, but it was mentioned at least once or twice in passing. He was on a business trip for 3 months. Well, he's on a business trip again, but this time I'll be on one while he's gone too.

He left before me, last week. It's funny, knowing that I'll be leaving too, because it doesn't matter how much I know that I'll be gone too. It doesn't matter how much my head knows something, because it still feels like it did on the last long business trip. Except for one glaring difference so far, which I'm not sure if it's because I know I'm leaving too or what...I haven't cried since he left.

Don't get me wrong - I was a miserable wreck for the five or so days before he left (when we found out the exact date). I mean that in every sense of the term - we got the exact date, I started crying for no particular reason. We'd be talking about something random and then WHAM, the tears were there. He was wonderful about it, though, and would just sit there and hold me the whole time, trying to make me feel better. The morning he left, well, every time I looked at him I'd break down sobbing. He'd make me laugh as tears were rolling down my face. I'd talk to a friend whose husband was going on the trip too and with no warning, I'd just start bawling. But as soon as he left and I can't see him or touch him (because Skype/Google Video Chat is AMAZING), nothing.

Last time, it was the one week mark that did it for me. One week in and I had what I referred to as my "breakdown day" because I just lost it. I'd woken up from a dream that he was with me, holding me, and then he wasn't there and that was it. I lost it and spent most of the day moping.

But this time...I haven't cried. And it bugs me enough that I just started a sentence with and, which I know is grammatically incorrect and should bug me. I want to cry but I can't, and because I can't I get upset because I want to, and it's this whole nasty cycle. I've watched romantic movie after romantic movie to no avail. My eyes might water up but then it all just gets sucked into my eye as if my eye is a desert. I even tried what I thought would be my secret weapon - this video. And nothing. I kind of feel all the time like I should cry, like I know that it would make me feel better and less mopey, but I don't. And I don't know why I'm confiding in you, whomever you may be, but since I've been watching too many girly movies, this quote popped into my head as being perfect for this spot. It's from "You've Got Mail" which is definitely high on my list of awesome girly movies for when I'm sad.
So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void. 
And now, since I've probably thoroughly depressed all of you, I thought I'd at least share something sewing-related. Well, I was going to share some stuff from my flickr stream but am getting an error because of the password on my flickr. And since I'm not about to lose everything I've written...hmm. Well, for one, I have kept my finishes and my WIPs up to date-ish. Except that the number of quilts I now need to make is up to 9, just for the babies. That's right - NINE baby quilts from now until March. And I'll be on a business trip (read: no sewing machine or fabric!) for at least a chunk of that! I choose to blame the pile-up of quilts on one coworker, whose wife is pregnant with triplets. One-third of my quilts are for his family, haha, not that he knows it!

And so, since this photo is on my hard drive, the recipient of this quilt just recently sent me a picture of it. I made this by hand when I was in college for a friend whose wedding I missed, then whose son's birth I missed. So I made them this quilt (drafted on my trusty graph paper!) by hand, piece by piece, in college, quilted it by hand, and for the first time, used a sewing machine to attach the binding to the front of the quilt and then sewed the back by hand. She sent me a picture of the quilt on her couch not too long ago so I could share it on the blog as it's a better picture than I had on my own. This friend of mine also happens to be an author who has a book that will be free 27-28 April on Amazon for your kindle, so check it out! Her blog, with info about the promotion, is here, so go check it out! And without further ado, the picture.

I probably love it more than I should, but I still love everything about that quilt. The design came from a website I'd found (this was back probably 7 or 8 years ago, so I have no idea where) and I simplified it so that it would work in a quilt. I added the border myself (original didn't have one) because it needed SOMETHING to enclose it. The backing is muslin, and the quilting is echo quilting in matching thread. As in, one line of quilting inside of each shape about 1/4" from the edge, and also one line of quilting outside of each shape in a nice harvest gold shade of quilting thread. I'm glad to see it's still holding up well, since it was not very densely quilted and it was pieced by hand! Let's hope it lasts as long as some of the old antique hand-pieced quilts!

With that, dear readers (if there are any of you out there), I'm going to say thank you. I feel much better after venting, so hopefully there will be no more angsty posts, and more posts in general. They won't all necessarily be about quilting itself since I'm not going to have a machine, but I should at least hopefully be able to catch us up with the quilts I've finished and haven't blogged about yet.

So this begs the question - what are YOU up to quilting-wise, or anything else-wise?

15 November 2011

Untitled by emmac350
Untitled, a photo by emmac350 on Flickr.

Top finally completed for baby Bryce, born a few weeks ago!

21 September 2011

Working, working

Just wanted to share a quick picture of my current project. Mod Mosaic blocks, 12.5" square. This has to be gender neutral which is hard. I'm loving the way it's turning out though!

I'm linking this up with Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times!

29 August 2011

Stash Report Week Something

This stash report, well, confesses a lot. Because I bought 30 yards of fabric (15 yards of Kona Snow for sashings and 15 yards of the chocolate helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman...I'm a helicopter pilot who works with helicopter pilots who have babies. It'll get used!)...I don't know if/when I'll ever get back in the positive! Oh, and I have a question - should I count the blocks I'm making for the Civil War Love Letters Quilt as I make them? They're going to take ages to finish, so I would like to, but at the same time, that means I can't count them when they're a top. So many choices! Gah! If I include the blocks I've done, then I have used another .5 yards...but if I don't count them, then at the end I can have a massive amount come off when I've completed the top...but that may not be for another few months! Or longer!

Used this week: 1.8 yards ('s a start!)
Used year to date: 14.6 yards
Added this week: 30 yards
Added year to date: 90.8 yards
Net usage for 2011: (75.4 yards)

Fabric used:

Baby SM's Quilt Backing - 1 yards
Binding for SM's Quilt - .2 yards
Blocks for the Black Rock Stitchery - .3 yards
Block for August in the Scrap Busters' Bee - .1 yards

Baby SM's Quilt

Baby SM's Quilt was finished and delivered on a Sunday and she was born the following Tuesday. I finished it just in time! As for the quilting, I decided to do it all with my free-motion foot. I quilted in the ditch (with the FMF so it was all wobbly like a little kid drew on the quilting) on all of the stars. Then I tried out a few free-motion quilting techniques in the blank squares. Pattern is a edited version of Bonnie Hunter's Random Ohio Stars (I just scaled the stars down to make the quilt finish baby-sized).

Front of Quilt:

Back of Quilt:

My favorite free-motion block of all - it's based on Icicle Lights from the Free Motion Quilting Blog:

My favorite color combination block of all:

My mistake block (can't get by without confessing that one):

A few more awesome blocks and closer-in views of the quilt:

My new way of signing the backs of quilts - fussy cut helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Robert Kaufman:

I hope you've enjoyed looking at this new quilt finish; hopefully I'll be able to blog a little more often in September as my schedule is supposed to be a bit less crazy. We'll see, but I hope to see you all again soon!

19 June 2011

It's been a while since my last post...and I feel like I spend every post's beginning saying that. But oh well! I have lots of confessions and lots of exciting things and lots of pictures to show you all! So that being said...

Baby C's Quilt

I have a friend, whom we'll call K (yes, I use a lot of initials, but I don't want people to be angry about their identities appearing online...I'm a big fan of privacy) who has now just had a baby. She has an 18 month old son, E, and a newborn son, C. I've known K as long as I've known A and M from the previous post. I found out this winter that she was pregnant and I obviously was going to make her a quilt. She's dabbled in quilting and has made a top but never quilted it. She does do rag quilts and such though. So anyways, I was going to make her a quilt. The baby room was going to be done up in Mickey Sports stuff but she wanted a "bright quilt like you [I] make" so I had to oblige her. I went with a simplified bento box design that I had played around with in my spare time. I went bright and colorful and somewhat gender neutral with the colors and loved the result.

I just quilted in the ditch on this one. I thought about filling in the parts of the boxes with quilting but decided I wanted to leave the design to shine through without the quilting hiding it. I love quilting but sometimes you just don't want it to outshine the quilt itself.

Front of the quilt:

Back of the quilt:

Front and back folded together:


All folded up and ready to give to mommy!

Baby S's Quilt

This quilt has been almost a year in the making. It was 7 months late, but his mom didn't seem to care. Her inspiration for the baby's room was this bedding set. I did log cabin blocks last June and got the top made up right before I started my international move. I took the top with me on my traveling before leaving the country and bought backing and hand-quilting supplies (mine had long been packed up at this point) to hand-quilt on the driving and flying to get to Germany. JoAnn Fabrics had the PERFECT backing fabric - a striped fabric with all of the colors (green, orange, brown, and blue also with a bit of white and yellow mixed in) which I used. I hand-quilted it with white thread in a combination of loops and stippling. It started out as stippling but I like it crossing over itself every so often...I like the circle-type shapes it creates. Because this quilt was hand-quilted, it got put on the back burner a lot, but it got pulled out more than a few times for driving. My husband usually drives when we're going on a trip, so I sit in the passenger seat and sew or read. This quilt finally got finished when I was back in the states at the beginning of June. I hand-sewed the binding, got pictures of it, and sent it off to the family who emailed me about a week later thanking me profusely.

Front of quilt:

Back of quilt:

Front and back:

Baby SM's Quilt

Baby SM's father is a coworker of mine. She (initials are of her first and middle name, to distinguish her from baby S) is the fifth baby and the first girl. So her quilt had to be girly, that's for sure! She's due August 1 and I've completed the top. I used Bonnie Hunter's Random Ohio Stars pattern and scaled it back from 12" and 6" stars to 9" and 4.5" stars. I tried to arrange the colors a bit like a rainbow, so the mostly red ones are at the top and the mostly blue ones are at the bottom. It isn't a perfect gradient but it's close.

My problem with this quilt is that I have NO IDEA how to quilt it. How do you quilt something like this? I can't just quilt in the ditch without spending a significant amount of time turning the quilt around to go around the sides of the triangle pieces. I can't do straight line stitching based off of the edges of the blocks since they overlap and don't go straight from one side to the other. I've only done one quilt (the doll quilt I entered in the Blogger's Quilt Festival) with free-motion quilting so I'm hardly an expert on that, but I'm thinking I need to figure something out to FMQ on it. But what? Will I have to do separate designs in the stars vs. in the background? I'm stuck. I don't even know if I'm going to do one of what my husband calls my "traditional" backings where I slice it up and put mini versions of the same thing as on the front in a row across it. This quilt just has me stymied! Also, I just used the word stymied. Any ideas ya'll have would be greatly appreciated! Oh, and I just noticed (it's hard to see in the picture but it's there) that one star has one set of points turned 90 degrees the wrong way. It's not in an easy-to-fix place so I'll just leave it as it is. My husband convinced me not to tear the whole top apart to fix one piece on a small star, somehow. Oh well, I guess it's got character like a lot of the old antique quilts you see.

The Wanna-Be Farmer's Wife Quiltalong

If you haven't been hiding under a rock or in a cave for the past two weeks, you've probably seen that there is a rather large group of quilters doing the Farmer's Wife Quiltalong right now. I really wanted to do it but don't have the book. Rather than buy the book and do it, I decided to instead do the Civil War Love Letters Sampler Quilt. My now Mother-in-Law (I think this was over the Christmas break where my husband proposed to me, but it might have been the year before, I'm not sure ) bought it for me as a Christmas present. My book, however, didn't come with a CD so I've been tracing the pictures in the book and teaching myself to paper piece with them. It's been a little rough but things are turning out okay. Some of the ones with more pieces are turning out slightly smaller than they should be, but they're generally working out okay. It's definitely fixable with some creative fudging on my sashing (whatever I choose for it). The best part is that I'm using all scraps (I've had to pull the bigger piece of one of the fabrics out when my scrap wasn't big enough one time so far, but other than that my usage is all scraps) from my brown, green, blue, and orange bags. My husband really liked the colors from baby S's quilt, so he requested that I do this quilt in those colors. This quilt will be for out bed so I'm going to do enough for two extra rows to make it rectangular. I have NO IDEA how I'm going to quilt this since I only have a tiny machine - maybe I'll find someone around me with a long arm that they can teach me how to use so I can use it? This quilt will most likely end up sized for a California King sized bed (our future bed when we get back to the states) so it's not going to fit in my little Jenny the Janome. *sigh* Maybe I should save up for a longarm? I can't imagine that I'll be able to save up enough for it to make it happen now or anytime relatively soon but I can always hope, can't I? My husband thinks it's cheating if someone else quilts my quilts, so getting it longarmed by someone else probably isn't an option. I don't know...maybe the size of this one will change that. We'll see.

The blocks I've finished so far:

Block 1: Enthusiasm

Block 2: A Secession Ball

Block 3: Healthful Region

Block 4: March in the Mountains (this one won't lay's not as funny-shaped as it looks like it is)

Block 5: Sorrows of War

Block 6: Liberal with Furlough (newest one finished and it really won't lay flat yet

Stash report number whatever it is...

Used this week: 2.5 yards
Used year to date: 13.0 yards
Added this week: 52 yards
Added year to date: 60.8 yards
Net usage for 2011: (47.8 yards)

Fabric Used:

.75 yard - binding for baby C's quilt
.75 yard - binding for baby S's quilt
1 yard - top for baby SM's quilt

Fabric Added:

50 yards of FQs (200 FQs from 2x100 FQ sets from Keepsake Quilting...some of it is visible in the picture above...some of my husband's present is also visible on the left)
2 yards of Fox print fabric also from Keepsake Quilting (I love foxes)

Back in the negatives again, sadly. And I have a TON to use up here before I am back in the positive. So help me use it. Give me ideas for quilting the Random Ohio Stars quilt for baby SM so I can pull a backing and quilt it. Help me come up with ways to use more fabric, because the year is half over and 47.8 yards of fabric is a lot to use up. I will get back in the positive...somehow...