28 September 2010

My Weekly Challenge

I just posted this over at Prairie Moon Quilts, and for accountability, I'm posting it here. Shelly does a Weekly Challenge, where she posts a project that she'd like to get done, and then updates everyone on her progress the following week. I'm thinking that might be a good idea for me - that way I can hopefully get more done on all of my projects! So, without any further ado, here's what I told Shelly:

Hmmm…maybe I should try these Weekly Challenge things. Let’s see…for this coming week, I want to make progress on both my Mom’s quilt (I hope to get it done by Christmas, although I always bite off more than I can chew) and Heather’s baby quilt. Heather’s baby was due on the 10th of September, but as of the 21st hadn’t come yet. I haven’t heard if he’s here yet.
For quantifiable stuff…I want to finish both square #29′s quilting (almost there already) and #30 (it’s just one more square…a few hours…or a few movies! of time hand-quilting will get me there). On Mom’s quilt, I’d like to complete at least another 6 leaves. Granted, I may be able to accomplish both of these goals this weekend, but I’d rather get more done than my goals than less.

I wondered whether I had bitten off more than I could chew, so to speak, after I posted this. But then Saturday happened. On Saturday, I managed to round out the number of completed leaf blocks to 15, and by Sunday I had 20! Aren't they pretty?

The colors aren't quite right. I tried fixing them to no avail. The middle leaf on the bottom row is a bright tangerine, and the top row's second leaf from the left is a bright yellow gingham. The one that looks black is a beautiful not quite black burgundy color.

I finally figured out the secret to these blocks - a SCANT 1/4" seam. It's solved just about all of my problems. My other solutions were to mark lines for where I should sew on my HST blocks (instead of relying on what I think 1/4" looks like), and then...the stem blocks...if you're making stems for your leaves (which I think they look funny without), draw a diagonal line from corner to corner of both sky blocks. Line the sky piece up corner to corner with the stem fabric. Then don't sew on your line. Seriously. Sew between 1/16" and 1/8" outside of that line (towards the corner, so as to make the stem itself bigger). You'll probably have to trim off small slivers of sky fabric after you iron the block, but following that advice will make your life ten times easier at a minimum.

While I'm on the subject of those stem blocks, don't forget! You'll be cutting off a triangle of each fabric, so make it into a small HST! Here are my little guys (they're really little...the biggest one is 1 1/4"-ish...I free-hand the seam for these little ones so some are bigger, some are smaller, some are more rectangular, etc.). I think I'm going to foundation piece them (like making a string them down to a piece of muslin, so that they're strengthened as they're going to end up SUPER tiny) and use them in my back somewhere.

They're cute, and I think I like the zig zag pattern for them. Although I'm not sure how I'm going to fit in the leftover HST blocks from the leaves that don't have blue sky behind them (there are some on the grass or against the tree). I guess I'll figure it out! I just think those little guys are adorable, but I'm sure they're going to be absolutely awful to sew. Oh well, can't win them all!

Not much else has been going on...I've had to go in early and stay late both days this week, and I have to go in tomorrow but I shouldn't have to stay late. I hope. I do, however, have church band practice tomorrow night so I won't even be home until almost 9 most likely. Oh well...Friday is coming soon. And it's payday this week. And my husband will be home in about a month and a half!

As for the hand quilting, I have finished quilting block number 29 and have started 30. I'm about halfway done with 30, but I didn't touch it today. I watched a movie while eating dinner and had ample time to work on it, but my eyes were killing me (cleaning fumes at work from the bathrooms getting a thorough scouring) and I just didn't feel like working on it. That's strange for me...quilting usually calms me down, but tonight all I wanted to do was wrap myself up in a blanket and watch my movie. Which I did. In my defense, it was 69 in my house when I came home...and the heat was on. I'm still figuring out what settings I need to use on the radiators and heated floors to keep the house comfortable. While watching the movie, the house cooled down another degree, so I'm going to have to go turn the radiators up probably half a setting. I don't mind the house not feeling like an oven, but I want it to at least maintain 70 no matter what. When it gets colder (today got up to almost 50 in the afternoon, although it was drizzly), I'm going to have to warm the house even more! Yikes! My heating bill is going to be a bit higher than I'm used to (moving from the Southeastern USA to an area more northerly than the US/Canadian border will do that to you!). I foresee lots of nights curled up, hand quilting underneath my BIG hand-quilting project and drinking hot chocolate in my future. :)

What's YOUR favorite thing to do in the fall/winter?

24 September 2010

Not FNSI, but...

So Friday Night Sew-In isn't for another few weeks...but I may or may not have had my own FNSI by myself tonight. I was originally planning on going to my real-life quilting friend's house for dinner (leftover tacos) and a movie (who knows what) and probably some quilting or at least drooling over the Hancock's of Paducah catalog. But with this cold, I didn't want her or her two little boys to get it (little kids are even more miserable than grown-ups when they're sick!). I'm feeling much better, but I don't want to risk it. To top it off, I ended up having to stay at work until just late enough that I had to choose between checking the mail just in case Pop-Pop's quilt backing and batting arrived and getting gas in my car. Needless to say, I chose the mail. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything there. :(

So back to my evening. I had leftover tacos anyways, and hand-quilted on Heather's baby quilt while watching Pride and Prejudice. It's my all-time favorite movie, and I really wanted to see it. There's just something about Lizzie and Mr. makes me smile. And, since I haven't made any progress on the sewing front beyond the hand-sewing (which is extremely slow and I won't bore you with pictures until I'm done with that quilt), I wanted to share with you all the evolution of my plan for my mom's quilt.

It started off with me just wanting an Autumn quilt. So what's more Autumn-y than falling leaves, right? Right. At this point, I was living in a hotel, so my resources were very limited and I didn't have any graph paper. My first attempt at figuring out the quilt was this:

Pretty impressive picture-taking skills there, right? And pretty awesome artistry too. It's hard to get a picture of a piece of paper that small....but if you look, there's a tree with a knot hole and leaves falling in the air. As soon as I had drawn this (on the back of the hotel's pad of paper), I realized that the quilt would need something to help anchor the right side. The left side would have the tree, but the right would have a lot of air. So I took a lined notebook I had, tore out a sheet and used it to mark up another piece of paper and made my own graph paper. Sometimes you just have to make do! So I added a hill on the right side - that would provide a bit more vertical interest on that side and make the base of the quilt visually more heavy. The solid green down there would weight it and make it seem more...real. Does that make sense? Here was my next version, on homemade graph paper!

Again, sorry for the flash. Taking pictures at 9 at night isn't easy. Originally, I didn't have as many leaves as you see here. I thought that I wouldn't want leaves directly next to or diagonal from each other, nor would I want the touching. My husband, as you can see, threw that out of the window! He also re-did my leaf color scheme. Aren't I lucky to have a husband who's willing to get involved in my quilting? I love him!

And then, you've seen my final design. I did this when I got a pad of graph paper, and I made the quilt a little bit bigger (about 6 inches wider). I did this because I'm a fan of quilts that are more square than long, skinny rectangles, and I didn't have enough room on the original homemade graph paper to fit any more width. I also added some leaves, since I made so much more room (my blocks will finish to 6 inches wide...if I can manage to sew correctly, which is always a big if!). Finalized design is here:

Don't be afraid to change your design...or to make a quilt that scares the living daylights out of you! I'm not afraid to admit that I'm terrified of this quilt. The leaf blocks don't line up in the least, which will make sewing everything together a pain in the rear end, I'm sure. To top it off, there are a TON of seams per leaf block, which is a TON more places where I can mess up my blocks. So far I've managed to keep my blocks big enough to at least fudge size-wise, but I'm nervous.

What scares you most as a quilter?

23 September 2010

Jenny is back!

We can all rejoice, for Jenny my Janome sewing machine is fixed! She can sew again! Total cost to me was about $35 (29 Euro), but I'm still not quite sure what exactly was wrong with her due to the language barrier between myself and the repairman (his daughter tried, but technical sewing machine words aren't part of her vocabulary). I tried just translating the bill, which had a description of services performed, but his handwriting was so terrible I couldn't figure out the spelling on a lot of the words. Of the few that I did figure out, there was "thread-way," "grabber (seriously!)," and "oiled." So based off of that (ha!), I can only imagine that there was something wrong with the way the grabber grabbed the thread from the thread-way, and he also cleaned and oiled my machine (one less thing for me to do!). It looks great, it runs like a charm, and I feel so much better.

The repair guy kind of reminds me of an old German version of my dad. He knew very little English, but he was very emphatic in telling me that my machine "was not the best" (seriously...over, and over, and over again) and that I should buy a new one from him (he's a Singer dealer). Then, as I was leaving, he was teasing me because I knock instead of ringing the doorbell. In my defense, there are two doorbell buttons, neither of which is labelled. A lot of houses/businesses around here have people living on the second floor, and since the doorbells are side by side instead of one above the other, I didn't know which to push. So I knocked. He followed me outside and rattled something off in German, pushing both doorbells to show me that both ring in their house, so I could use them. He then smiled, laughed, and walked inside. It was exactly like what my dad would do, but the random German would have been something sarcastic, just to make you blush, then laugh. Any quilters in my general area - let me know if you want his contact information, I'd love to pass it along!

I did a test run with her (of course!) and finished up the block that broke the machine. I then started another block but realized quickly why you shouldn't sew with a cold. I use the "sew both seams and cut apart into triangles" method of making half-square triangles, and I cut one set apart before sewing the second seam. Then I stitched my blocks together wrong on the first row. So I decided that it was time to call it quits for the night. But she works. My sewing machine is back.

In other news, my blog has been added to the blogroll over at Quilter Blogs! If you haven't seen the site, it's a great way to waste time I mean look at some amazing stuff from over 1250 quilters worldwide! It's a great site to look at when you only have a few minutes and want to see something quilty. It's what I do at work when I have some time off (like at lunch if it's raining outside).

As for the cold...I'm pretty sure that my head is going to explode. Or implode. I can't even tell if it's inward or outward pressure. I started having symptoms of my cold yesterday, and today it was all out. I woke up and swallowing was painful because of how swollen the glands in my throat were. My sinuses have been switching back and forth with which one feels like being stuffed and painful, but I've had sinus aches all over my face. You know, when you feel like your cheekbones are trying to explode out of your head and your teeth want to jump out of your mouth...yeah. Work was fun today. I've had tea twice today (it's a "Wellness" tea that has peppermint, berries, several different flowers, etc.) which has helped, and I've done saline gargles and nosewashes (I hate inhaling salt water but it helps the stuffed-up feeling in the sinuses). I am not going to take medicine...the side effects I get from even the most benign cold medicine are not worth it. Even those little tiny red sudafed pills make me extremely dehydrated, dizzy, and have a racing heart, while some of the more hardcore meds make me feel almost drunk. So please pray that I start feeling better! I'm heading to bed early tonight (it's almost 9) to hopefully feel better in the morning!

Have a great day/night/whatever time it is in your part of the world!

19 September 2010

FNSI Results, and a bunch of overdue pictures!

So, my Friday Night Sew-In didn't encompass any sewing at all. But that's just fine with me! I started off with finishing cutting out squares for my mom's quilt. The plan for the quilt is here:

Each of those boxes is going to be a maple leaf block. The letter in it (Y, R O, G, B) corresponds to its color (yellow, red, orange, green, brown). On the left is a tree and the bottom (where you can see the line sloping up to the right) has a little hill of grass. You can see all of my progress as I cut out the blocks because I crossed out how many of each block I needed and replaced it with the new number needed...I can't keep track of numbers in my head very well (short attention span) so I write down how many I need to do. I needed over 800 squares for this quilt, most of which were 2.5", but there were some that were 2 1/8" (to make the sky on the stems of the maple leaf blocks) and some that were 2 7/8" (half square triangles).

I finished cutting out squares on Friday, leaving this:

Yes, that's a TON of squares to cut, but I did have a bit of a break. I had made a baby quilt a while back that was various blues and greens in 2.5" squares and I did have some leftover. I know some quilters cut their squares ahead of time, but I use all sorts of different sizes of squares and fabric pieces (most of my fabric is either fat eighths or fat quarters) so I'd never have any larger pieces of fabric if I cut anything less than 1/4 yard!

After I finished cutting, I then reorganized my scraps into their color bags. That took a while, because I try to make everything nice and neat in the bags. That result is here:

Then, because my fabric was literally strewn all across the couch and living room floor (I didn't take any pictures of that!) I folded all of the larger pieces of fabric and put them away neatly into my fabric basket.

Hooray for a neatly folded stash!

Then, on Saturday, my swap partner for the Brown Bag Quilt Contest and I met up. She came over to my house (I was cleaning as my mother-in-law was going to call me on Skype that evening, so I had to clean...she's one of those people who has to clean the house for a week before guests come over) and we were both totally surprised when we realized that we were less than 10 years apart in age! Hooray for that! Here's a picture of the fabrics I gave her (the pieces were 1/4 yard or 1/8 yard cuts...most of which I cut myself).

And, tied up in a bundle with a bit of leftover ribbon:

She was certain that I would hate her for the fabrics she gave me, but how could you hate anything as cute as these?

I have no clue what I'll make with them, but look at the adorable (homemade) bag they were in!

She also gave me some (what I thought were) white chocolate truffles. When I bit into one, I quickly realized that these were alcoholic truffles! They have Marc de Champagne brandy listed as an ingredient...they're good, but the flavor is a bit strong.

And, just to share a bit of my life with you, here's a picture of my landlady's cat, Felix. He has a brother named Tommy, but I've only seen Tommy from a distance once, whereas Felix loves to rub all over my legs and try to trip me. He's really friendly, and it's like I have a virtual pet (since I can't have any in the apartment).

He's awesome...and about a minute after I took that picture, he rolled right off of the step. Classic!

And one last bit of my life - here's a picture of Mr. Rooster and his harem! Mr. Rooster and his ladies live in the house behind mine, and while Mr. Rooster isn't overly loud, you can definitely hear him challenging the rest of the world to a fight every half hour or so.

Then for some sad news...Jenny the Janome is broken. I was in the middle of sewing some of my maple leaf blocks for Mom's quilt and suddenly the machine seized up. I took off her needle plate and cleaned out the lint (I haven't cleaned it out in a LONG time), put her back together, and she still didn't work. I took the needle plate off again and hand-cranked a few stitches, and the thread from the spool is getting caught on the hook that goes in a circle around the bobbin that lets the thread catch on the bobbin thread (I don't know what the name of it is) but it never gets OFF of that hook and onto the bobbin thread. So the hook circle thing (anybody know what that's called?) goes around two or three times, and then the thread somehow manages to get looped around the feed dogs, which is when it seizes up. I think it might just be a timing issue, but we'll see.

The good news is that I found a repair place (in all honesty, I think it's an old guy who's mechanically inclined...his daughter says he fixes all kinds of sewing machines) that's less than 10 minutes from work for me, so I am dropping it off on Monday. I'll try to get a cost estimate beforehand, because the machine wasn't very expensive, and if the cost of the repair is more than about $125 (half the cost of my machine), my husband gave me permission to not repair it, but instead replace the machine. I'll probably go into Nürnberg to the Pfaff store and get a Pfaff if that's the case but I will see ahead of time if I can sell the machine to the old repairman since I don't know how to fix it, and it's probably silly to keep a not-working machine. Maybe I will keep it, though, and get it fixed when I go home to the states. Luckily, my quilting friend (the one who was the subject of the "I have a real life quilter friend!" post) is in between projects and she said that I can use her Husqvarna until mine gets fixed or replaced. I had one seam left to finish my 4th maple leaf block too...figures.

Anyways, long post with tons of pictures! Hooray! Hope you enjoyed all of that, and good job for making it down to the bottom!

16 September 2010

What is Modern Quilting?

I stumbled across a post about whether Modern Quilting is a revolution or an evolution. Reading it triggered a sore spot of mine that has developed after looking through the Flickr Fresh Modern Quilts pictures. I wrote out the following reply to the post but when I realized how hugely long it was, I realized that it might make a good discussion blog post too. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to bash anyone. I think I just have a different way of looking at quilts and quilting than some, and I wanted to share why I think the way I do. So read on, and pass this on if you like it or think that someone else would want to see it. I'd love to hear other peoples' thoughts on the matter!

I realize that I'm really late to this discussion, but I wanted to chime in, even if nobody will ever see it. I read this article and all of the comments, and have mulled over what to say for a while now. It almost seems to me that many who call themselves modern quilters and just make quilts from kits with a single line of fabric and maybe one solid fabric mixed in or, if not from a kit, at least they make their fabric choices based off of a single line or two of fabric, are afraid. Quilting is something that so often today is associated with grandmothers. Grandmothers who sat up late, working on incredibly intricate blocks just like their grandmothers. In our society, we are taught to fear aging - you should look like you're 20 for the rest of your life, right? Botox, cosmetic surgery, all of the age-defying products on the market...we as a culture in the US, anyways, are afraid to seem old. So why would we want to do something that our grandmothers did?

While we love quilting, we also want to separate OUR quilts from THEIR quilts. We want a way to say "I quilt, but I don't do it like old ladies...I'm not old, I'm modern!" so that our friends, when they find out we quilt, don't instantly think of us as shriveled old women. We use fabrics bought at the store specifically for a quilt so we're not scrimping and saving everything the way the quilters of old did. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against buying fabric for quilting...quite the opposite, if you look at my stash. I have a problem with the way we don't push our boundaries. We're lucky to live in a world where quilting isn't a necessity anymore. We don't have to make a quilt in order to keep our newest child from freezing to death in the middle of the night. And that's great. But that has changed quilting.

I'm not going to lie, I get sick of looking at flickr pools that are all full of the same quilt designs - they're great designs, but the quilts aren't really unique. I'm not going to name any because I don't want to make anyone mad, but there a few newer designs that have been showing up almost daily in the FMQ pool. Traditional designs, sure - everyone recognizes a 9 patch quilt, and it's one of the simplest ones out there. I just don't understand why, after seeing umpteen other quilts that are identical, just with different fabric, you'd want to make it yourself. Maybe I'm just jaded, or too stubborn and independent, but I've made a few quilts with traditional designs (Log Cabin, Disappearing 9 Patch, pinwheel, Trip Around the World, etc.) and am rather proud that I've never made someone else's quilt.

At the same time, my quilts are still in the FMQ pool. I submit them to a lot of different flickr pools, but every time I submit a traditional-designed quilt to the FMQ pool, I feel like I'm being a rebel. After all, my quilt isn't modern - there are quilts hundreds of years old with the same design. The first few times I submitted images to the FMQ pool, I wondered if my quilts would make it in, since every other quilt had white sashing, multiple borders, and designer fabrics. I'm not using designer fabrics, either - I think I have 2 Moda fabrics. Maybe 3. I have less than a yard of each, as I picked them out based off of the color and design, only later realizing that they were made by Moda. I have FQs from Joanns, Hancocks, Hancocks of Paducah, and all sorts of other stores. The fabrics aren't even usually bought as bundles - I don't really do coordinated stuff, I just pick out a few individuals that catch my eye and work them into my future quilts.

I'm not trying to bash Moda or any other fabric line, but too many times other quilt bloggers buy tons of it, post pictures of it on their blog generally with the caption "delicious" or "yummy" something similar, and never use it (or it's a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I just laugh as I don't even know what fabric it is). They complain about never using it, too, which bugs me. What's the point of a fabric if it never gets used? I have trouble finding homes for some of my fabrics, too, but with each quilt I design, I try to use at least one untouched fabric. I'm a scrappy quilter, so I might have as many as 10 or 15 different fabrics of one color (say, brown) in a baby quilt, let alone in a larger one! It might take a little more time for you to pick out your fabrics if you don't just pick up a charm pack or layer cake or jelly roll or whatever, and you'll probably spend a little more time cutting since your pieces of fabric aren't already partially cut for you. But it's not that much me, I work full time, and I still manage to do it!

My challenge to "modern quilters" out there - try something different than everyone else is doing. Make a quilt that doesn't involve pre-cuts. Make a quilt that doesn't have sashing in between the blocks and a narrow and wide border. Make a quilt that you designed - it's not that hard, even if you don't have EQ software. It takes a little longer to count how many squares you'll need, but it's totally doable. For me, maybe I'll try some of those things...sashing, or borders. I don't use them at all, so it'd be a step out of my comfort zone. Because that's what modern quilting really is - it's us trying something new, and knowing that we won't be rejected for it. After all, if a traditional block with no sashing and no designer fabrics can make it into a modern quilt pool, break out of the wonky log cabin rut and try a real log cabin!

So...what do you think? I hope I didn't hurt your feelings, but I would love to see this post foster some healthy debate/discussion! Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments!

14 September 2010

FNSI and other exciting news!

First of all, Friday Night Sew-In is back!

You know, Friday Night Sew-In! Where we as a quilting community all stay home on Friday night and sew our butts off! Not that it's any different than what I've been doing on my last few Friday nights, but hey - it's a good excuse to use to stay home and sew. It's taking place this Friday, September 17th.

As for me, I got my email matching me up with my Brown Bag Quilt partner this morning. The Brown Bag Quilt project is being run by JoyLyn, a poster on Stash Manicure (link goes to the BBQ post), and basically you get matched up with a partner, exchange 2 yards of unwanted fabric, and make a quilt using 90% of the fabric given to you by your partner in it. You are allowed to buy a backing, though, and add as much of your own fabric as you'd like. The best part about'll take a mini story to explain.

As you know (if you've read this at all), I live in Germany, but I'm not German. I'm just here for a few years. I live in a German town, but I work with other Americans. When I signed up for the BBQ contest, I gave JoyLyn my American address. APO boxes are fantastic for those of us living here, because shipping isn't any more expensive than sending something to New York City would be. So families can send you care packages without having to pay tons of money. I had to explain how that address worked to JoyLyn, but in the end she was happy and everything was finalized about my address. When I got my partner email, imagine my complete shock when I saw that my partner lives less than a mile from me! JoyLyn didn't know what city I lived in here, but she somehow paired me up with someone who lives in my town! I mean, seriously - how cool is that?

Karin (my partner) and I are going to meet up in person to exchange our fabric this weekend (hey - we both work full time, so give us a break!). I am going to have another real-life quilting friend! She's interested in maybe hanging out and sewing together sometime too. I'll have to clean my house thoroughly (I think the excuse that I just moved in is starting to wear off a bit) and find homes for some stuff before she does, but I'm so excited!

In other news, I finished Pop-Pop's quilt top. I don't have a picture, mostly because it looks exactly like it did in my picture. I have a package that I'll be getting tomorrow - I really hope it's the backing and batting for this quilt! I ordered it about a week ago-ish, so maybe it is. :) While waiting for Pop-Pop's quilt pieces to come in, I've been working on my next quilt - the fall quilt. Surprisingly, I've cut out all the squares except for the tree (I'll post the design hopefully by this weekend...tomorrow and Thursday are busy for me, so I doubt I'll get it done before then) using just my stash. I did get a bit of help, since I had a few leftover squares from a baby quilt I made. I purposely cut out extra squares for that baby quilt since I was doing a scrappy trip around the world design (it was made of blocks of trip around the world, so I didn't need to have a bunch of any one fabric) and wanted to make sure that I'd have enough blocks to complete the design. So some of my sky blocks and some of my grass blocks are leftovers from that, but I've cut almost 600 squares in the last few evenings. I'll have to get a picture of my living room for you - it's a total mess! I have fabrics literally strewn all over the couch and floor! Most of them aren't folded, and the piles of squares on the table are really impressive!

Anyways, I hope you guys are having a wonderful day/night/whatever it is for you! It's almost bedtime for me (almost 2030 here!) so I'm off to finish cleaning the kitchen and make my lunch and dinner for tomorrow. Tschüss (that's German for bye, and it's pronounced kind of like tchewsss)!

09 September 2010

No picture, but...

Hey all - sorry it's been so long since I posted. We got internet in the house, finally, but I had to start working again the next day so it's been a bit hectic. I also just started facilitating a ladies' evening Bible study on Thursday night, so as you can imagine I've been a little bit stressed lately!

The downside to all of this is that I have less time for sewing. I don't have the time at the moment to just sit down and work on quilts all day. I do try to squeeze in at least sewing one row together and onto the quilt right now, because sewing is my primary method of stress relief. As it stands (or lays) the quilt now has 8/12 rows attached, and the other 4 are neatly waiting in a pile.

I have grand plans this weekend to go to a high school football game on Friday night and then the circus on Saturday (it's tiny and I don't expect much, seeing as the only things visible were 2 camels, a few miniature horses, a few goats, and a tent) but I'm hoping that a friend and her two boys will come with me. I don't like doing circuses alone - carnies are creepy. It may sound cliche, but they are. I may wimp out of one or both of these events depending on how much I want to relax this weekend. Between yesterday and today, I haven't been in my house and not asleep for more than an hour and a half straight, and I tend to be a bit of a homebody. In my defense, I'm trying to get a lot of quilting done.

Also, I have a few question for my readers. This is going to be the biggest quilt I've ever made with a machine. My quilting plan is to stitch-in-the-ditch which, given the random nature of my block placement, will mean some starts and stops. And by some, I mean way more than I'd like. But stitching in the ditch will not detract from the design on the front and what it is intended to represent, plus it will put the nice echo of the design onto the back (which is going to be this fabric). So when faced with this sort of quilting endeavor, how would you start and stop your threads? I know that some make it kind of like chain piecing, where, when they stop and go to start again, they move the thread around a bit to get some extra in between the stop and the next start, then start again and, when all done, they cut the threads, knot them, and pop them in between the quilt layers as if they'd hand quilted it. I know that some just back up over the beginning and endings with the reverse lever on their machine, and go back over it forwards again. I've done the second usually, but I'm going to be using white thread on brown and green and if I get the tiniest bit off on the backing up and forward portions I'm afraid it'll be really obvious. What would you do? I know how I sew, and there will be plenty of places where I get a little out of the ditch with the quilting. It happens to the best of us, right? I hope I'm not the only one...

So what would you do if you were me?

06 September 2010

Sneak Peek!

This is what Pop-Pop's quilt will look like once I sew it together. I sewed together row 1 together, although I sewed the first half of it together wrong. The squares were all turned 90 degrees to the right, so it messed up the design big time. After ripping out the three seams, I turned the blocks 90 degrees back to the proper position, sewed them together the right way, and row 1 is sewn together. I'm glad that I took a picture of the layout, because I've used it to double check my sewing more than a few times now!

04 September 2010

In which I explode from excitement

No, I'm not done with the quilt... or the cutting and squaring of the 9-patches. I am halfway done, and my cutting mat (that was bought and has been used since around 1998... maybe it's time for a new one?) is almost flat again (stupid movers). No, what I'm excited about is that I just found out that one of my friends here is a quilter!
How did I find this out? Well, she and I and a few other ladies were going to a really cool super huge music store about an hour away and we met up at this friend's house. We had never seen the whole house, so she gave us a tour of the upstairs as we never had been up there. And guess what was on one of the guest beds? A hand quilting hoop! I looked at it, looked at her, and said, "This is a quilting hoop" in a rather dazed voice (pretty original, right?) She said "yeah, I quilt... why, do you?" How cool is that? We talked about it in the car a little bit. She does it all by hand, but so did I until this past January, really. So yeah. I have a real life quilting friend! She is only the second quilter I have known in real life so this is a big deal for me.
As for my quilting, the picture at the top is my sewing table (sorry, I can't control where the picture shows up on the post) at this very instant. There is a green pile of 9-patch pieces, a brown pile of 9-patch pieces, some scrap batting, pins, broken camera, water bottle, and bag for scraps and strings. In the middle is my not quite flat cutting may with the next block to disappear. On the right is the pile of blocks that still need to disappear and my workhorse - a Janome Sewist 509. So there you have it. Nothing fancy, but it suits me just fine.

01 September 2010

Do you know what this is? aka Pop-Pop's Quilt Process Part 3

It's a stack of 24 brown and green 9-patches waiting to disappear. I'm sure you all are getting sick of seeing me blog about this quilt, but I am really trying to stay focused and get it done quickly. I'm the type to get burnt out on quilts without bright colors, so I want to get this as close to being done as I can before I swear off brown and green for life.
I'll cut them tomorrow. It's bedtime for this little quilter!