Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 31, 2012 ? Last Day Of January....Really!

It is amazing how fast the time passes.  It seems like yesterday that it was New Year's Eve and passing into 2012.  I can say that I have gotten a good start to the year and working on my UFO's.  Tomorrow we'll go over some additional tips for getting your UFO pile wittled down.

As you look over what you have accomplished in the first month of this year take time to pour over the beautiful fabric you have in your personal stash.  Some of my fabric I have had pieces of since I began quilting in 1992.  Some of the fabric belonged to my grandmother, clothing from my grandfather and many fabrics that I have aquired over my travels in the past 20 years.  Fabric can contain beautiful memories for you..........so what is your fabric reminding you of today?

Our stash of fabric is a large investment and with cotton prices skyrocketing it makes it even more valuable to us as quilters.  Using every inch of our fabric which can cost us $9-$11 per yard is essential.  Scrap quilting is not only frugal, it is essential to the bottom line of most quilter's budget.  Young quilters have big decisions to make when purchasing fabric to make a quilt.  When it may cost $100 to purchase the required amount of fabric for a quilt.  Teaching new quilters to work with scraps to create beautiful quilts is definately a way to keep them quilting without making huge investments in fabric. 
The photo above is from our last quilt guild meeting when myself and my bee girls took in some scraps and orphan blocks for our quilters to partake in.  The response was wonderful.
Consider having a scrap basket at your guild meeting and letting your newer quilters take home a bag of scraps to begin a new project with.  You may be amazed at what beautiful quilts emerge from that pile of scraps.

Off to work now......Happy Quilting,

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pincushions and Bobbins

I don't know about you but I seem to love pincushions.  I make them, I get them as gifts and I purchase them at boutiques.  I have pincushions in all shapes and sizes.  Obviously no one needs a ton of pincushions but I think I have them in every room of the house.....just in case I need a pin sometime...hehehe.

I have several pictures here of my pincushion collection.  I never realized until today that I had a "collection" of pincushions.  As you can see I wasn't kidding about all shapes and sizes.  We have fruit shaped, a chicken, heart shaped, wool and even a magnetic mechanic's bowl.
 The second picture with additional "collection".  Aren't the owl's cute as pie.  Sandy W. a guild member made these for the boutique and of course I had to buy some for gifts and these two for me.  The triangle shaped one was given to me by Susan and even has a little "bee" on it.  Then you have the trusty piece of wool that slips easily into your "carry project" bag.
 The next picture is two wrist pincushions. 
 The patriotic one was given to me by my friend Suzanne, which I love to use when I am sewing at my machine.
 The other one I purchased and use on the front rail of my long arm to put pins I may be using while quilting.
 Now on to bobbins.  Below is a picture of the candy container I got while on our trip to Hershey, PA.  I enjoyed the Hershey kisses that it contained and could not bring myself to throw it away....way to cute!
 So now it houses my pre-wound bobbins in a multitude of colors.  I guess you could call this another kind of quilters candy.
 Now do you have a "collection" of pincushions also?  Would love to see pictures of your collection.
Happy Quilting,

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bee Group Time

Last night Bee was here at my house.  We enjoyed some of the big pot of chili I made the day before.  Yum!

Here is some of the fun we had.  Gina was sewing binding on a baby quilt for a new grandson on the way.  Aren't all of the cowboy fabrics cute as a button?

 Suzanne had pieced a donation quilt and got it quilted last night in the longarm.  Beautiful yellow, black and white fabric from Studio E Fabrics.  The quilt is a donation to Pendleton Place.  I loved the fabric!
 Mom was piecing on her Orca Bay quilt but brought her finished braid quilt to show.  Look at all those scraps of fabric made into a beautiful quilt.  Her little arms were not long enough to hold up that whole quilt.  She did great.  She cut and pieced this one all by herself.  Very proud of her.
I was slicing her Orca Bay red string blocks in half and sizing them down for the quilt.  Thought I would never get that pile of pieces done.  But all done.  She was piecing on the 6-inch ohio star blocks.  They look beautiful.
Off to work now......hope you can find some time to quilt today.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Work Smarter......Not Harder

Have you ever heard the saying....If you want a project done give it to a busy person..?  We workers that are busy are always wondering why someone would ask a person who is always running to do another project....why you ask......because we will get it done!  I have always got lists of things to get done in a day and always have.  If you are a person who sets goals in your life you know that first you must have a goal written down.  Those who write their goals down will achieve 90% more than those who don't write their goals down. 

Your brian is a miraculious thing, and if you keep those wheels churning it will help you achieve your goals.  If you want to reach those big goals you set you must first break them down into bite size chunks......like when someone asks you how to you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  Have just a huge goal in front of you can be disheartening......all you see is that huge thing looming over you.  But if you have small parts like piecing one block or appliqueing down one cathedral window or sewing one hexi onto the piece today when you will not feel so overwhelmed.  Put your final goal in front of you but keep those small parts close at hand.  Before you know it you will achieve that big goal......one bite at a time.

UFO's are no different than other goals you have in life.  If you make them a priority and set up small bite size chunks you will complete them.  Pat Sloan reminded me of this today with her e-mail.....
Dear Shelia,      
I'm asked a LOT how do I get so much done.

Here are My TOP THREE Tips for Getting More Done!

1. Always have a project out where you can get to it. Do not put everything 'away' where it takes precious time to get it out. 

2. Work at least 10 minutes a day, no matter how busy you are you can find 10 min a day. While food cooks, while on the phone (head set!), waiting 'anywhere'... see #1 about having a project ready.. THAT is key 

3. Have ONE goal for finishing that is manageable. Such as "I will applique one leaf today"... NOT... "I will piece this whole top tonight"... huge difference.. MANAGEABLE goals.  
"Work smarter, not harder."
- Ron Carswell  
You are so right Pat.  My goal is 15 minutes a day on one of my projects.  A couple of years ago mom and I took a Messenger Bag and Tote class at the Quilter's Of South Carolina retreat.  I made this messenger purse.....which I LOVE and this tote which I have had in the closet, love it but just have not been using it.  It now is in my car as my Take With You Everywhere Bag Project.  I am keeping pieces of my cathedral window project and anything that needs binding etc.  When I know I am going to be somewhere for a few hours I can carry this in with me and have several things to work on.  I am also keeping a magazine in there to read.
 Remember the pink zipper bag that I had made out of extra quilted fabric????  It is in my purse with hexi flowers I can do on the run if I have 10-15 minutes or so to work on a project.
 So set those goals and give yourself the equipment you need at hand to help you meet those goals.

Happy Quilting,

UFO Busting Tip #10

I know you think I had forgotten to finish my UFO busting tips.....but no no no.  I have been giving us all time to use the first few tips before moving on to new ones.  I hope that you have been able to use some of the previous tips to get your projects sorted and chosen those you want to work on.  I really seem to be making progress on my projects.

So on to Pat's UFO Busting Tip #10
Quick Finish Quilt

Pat says For most of my quilting life I have considered what I do to put the 3 layers of a quilt together (the quilting..and could we have NOT found another word for this.. so confusing... but I digress!)
ok.. where was I?
Oh yes... I have always considered that the quilting really enhanced the quilt and I really wanted to add that additional layer of design to the piece.

But sometimes you JUST NEED TO FINISH something...
Like a baby quilt
A Lap quilt
Even a BED quilt

So Pat is going to share her "Fast Finish" quilting.  You are going to love it for things that just need to be done.  See that plaid? 
It's a minkee .. use any brand.. use fleece.  No batting in this pile.. did you notice that?

Clamp that minkee/fleece baking to your basting table

I have owned these "Cheap-o" clamps for 100 yrs..
seriously.. 100 yrs
Just be sure you can OPEN them WIDE enough for the edge of your table

Lay the TOP on the backing right side up
No batting...

Baste in your usual manner.. I adore pins... and my kwik klip (get it here)!

Ready to quilt?
This is the grid I'm going to do
In the ditch and then an big 'x' through all the blocks
Trim the edge so we can do binding! 
Don't forget Pat's tutorial on Binding done by machine (CLICK HERE to my tutorial on machine binding!)
And all done!
I am looking at a LOT of my quilts with fresh eyes...
I can do this grid quickly and the piece is soft and cuddly and
If you can't find this type of backing at your local quilt shop Pat has an option to help, then click HERE to my partner fabric site where they have LOADS of options!
*** So what can YOU Quilt this way???
This was another great tip from Pat on getting a UFO done and out of your pile.  I've never used the Minkie or just fleece as a backing before and not used batting.  Guess we ARE allowed to think of a quilt in different terms.  We don't always have to have 3 different layers to make a quilt.
Only a few more tips left to help us sort those projects.
Happy Quilting,

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cooking Day

Today I am spending a few hours getting some freezer meals done and packaged up to freeze. I love freezer cooking as it gives me the flexability I need with my schedule. It also gives me great tasting food that anyone can throw together in a minute for a fast meal.

I have several pots going at one time. Today I am starting out with ground beef and turkey. This first pot is going to be Chili.......YES!! Great to have on hand for these cold, rainy days we've been having lately.

This next pot is going to be spaghetti sauce. Once ready and packaged all I have to do is throw some pasta on to cook and simmer the sauce to warm....or better yet pop it into the microwave if time is really short. Mushrooms and onions sauteeing ready for the ground beef to be added.

The last pot is going to be Taco Meat. I love to get this ready and packaged. Then I have flexability to make a taco salad, nachos or taco's in a flash.

Flexability......it's a good thing in a quilters life. Less time cooking means more time for quilting.

My sweet hubby was busy last night adding some extra shelves for me in my studio. He added one above my ironing board. He set my old singer machine that I bought last year on our anniversary trip on the shelf to help "set the glue". I think it looks great there.......maybe she found a place to stay for now.

He also put a shelf below my tv so I can set my boombox he gave me to use with my IPAD 2 at Christmas. It also has FM radio I can use when I don't have my IPAD set in. It is remote control so I can adjust it from across the room....love this thing. More flexability........

Now if I could just get my body to have more flexability...hehehe.
Happy Quilting,

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Very First Block

While cleaning out my UFO's I found in the box of orphan blocks my very first quilt block. It was a hand pieced goose in the pond block.

See the stitching on the back.....glad my skills have improved.

I almost threw it away, but decided it was a piece of my quilting history and I needed to keep it. I may frame it as a reminder of how far I have come in quilting and hang it in my studio.

Off to work another crazy shift in the emergency room today. Hope you are able to find some quilting time today.

Happy Quilting,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bonus Projects

Bonus projects are one thing that I love about quilting.  "Waste not Want not".  As quilters we are always looking for ways to use up what we have and not waste any space.  One of the things that I do to use up extra batting and backing when I am quilting a quilt in my long arm is to put extra fat quarters or larger scraps of fabric beside a quilt in the frame or below the quilt to use up the extra batting and backing.  What I have at the end is quilted fabric that I can make into anything I choose.

Below is a picture of some of the zippered bags I made from fabric used beside or below another quilt being quilted in the longarm.  Smaller scraps also serve to let me test my tension during the quilting process when I change a bobbin or thread.  I can use these bags as gifts or donate them to our Quilt Show Boutique to be sold as fundraisers for our guild.  Bonus projects......they are a good thing!
 Two or three years ago I bought a "lot" of zippers on ebay for I think $10.  Now I have zippers of all sizes and colors so I have infinate possibilities when I make "bonus projects".  Need zippers......check ebay for a "lot" which usually have many zippers in various sizes and colors.  You too can have a stash to use for these bonus projects.

Hope you are able to find some "bonus projects" in your quilting world today.
Happy Quilting,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Cold Windy Sunday

Burrr.....It has been really cold today.  The temperature was around 54 when we left for church this morning, but when we got out it was 42.....burrrrrrrrrr.  And the wind has been really rockin here today. 

When I started cleaning out and going through my UFO's I began finding things that I had not seen in a VERY long time.  This is one of those "I forgot I had it" items.  After my grandfather passed away I had only asked for his shirts and ties and I have a plan for a quilt, but in that bag of shirts and ties that I received when my father and his sisters cleaned out papa's house was several of my grandmother Lena's quilt tops.  Below is one of those, handpieced hexagon quilts.  See the shirting fabrics used from papa's and the boy's old shirts?  Look at that hand stitching.......not the smallest in the world, but it's stitches placed there by my grandma Lena....PRICELESS!
 The front of the same quilt.  Utilitarian quilts to me have so much character.
 Now back to my UFO's.  I've gotten all of the brown kaleidoscope blocks completed, I'm going to set them 5 x 7.  I have all seven rows of blocks completed and some are already squared up, but I've got more to square.  Now to pick out some brown from my stash for the borders.  I really contemplated making this smaller like 5 x 5 but Roger convinced me to finished the blocks I already had cut out.........Since he is 6-ft tall I think he had an alterior motive to have this long enough for him to use in his recliner.......hummmmmmm.
That is o.k. because I love seeing people I love cozy under a quilt that I made.  Kinda makes it even more special doesn't it.
 Now for this girl............
purrrrrr.....yes mam I found you new scrap bucket.....hehehe!  Oh well, I can't complain since I love touching fabric also.

Hope you have had some fun quilting today.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Don't Forget To Vote!

We Voted!

South Carolina Republican Primary is today.....weather is crappy but I hope everyone will make an effort to vote today.  Roger and I have always voted at 7:00 a.m. due to our work schedules so today we just continued that trend.  I've been up most of the night with a headache and nausea due to the pain.....headache is better this morning but nausea is lingering.    Hope the weather clears up some today. 

Decided at 3:00 a.m. to cut some of the half-square triangles for mom's Orca Bay quilt. 

Happy Quilting,

Friday, January 20, 2012

UFO Busting Tip #9

Pat Sloan is keeping us rolling on our UFO Busting with her ninth tip.

UFO Busting Tip #9--The Art Of The Disassemble.

Pat's tip is generated by her friend Becky who left a comment
during an early tip.
Becky said - "If you don't love the project, but love fabric that you have set aside... break up the set!" Becky wrote that she has done this with great success. She has give away the parts that are done as someone will the love the challenge of working with it!
Thank you Becky!! visit her blog http://quiltingbooklady.blogspot.com

Pat is UP for this challenge.. She is going to show you THREE of Pat's UFOs and How I'd Disassemble them (note I did not say I WOULD do this... it may just be an example of what I COULD do.. just saying)  Below is Pat's basket

Project Number 1

This is a set of blocks from Le Fleur De' Jardin designed by Lisa DeBee Shiller. It's an older pattern and not sure you can get it anymore (ok.. if you want to try go ahead... )
Pat has ALREADY changed out the fabric TWO TIMES for this quilt since the project was completed
What to do?
1-Pat can keep the blocks and when she feels READY to finish she can find new fabric
2- If Pat choses to do number 1 then she can put the setting fabrics BACK into her 'Collection' (stash)
Project Number 2

Another pattern pack from 'days gone by'. Susan Powell's Victory Garden applique quilt.
Some of Susan's patterns are out again and you can find a new version of this pattern HERE
ONLY one block done. Pat says "the applique is 'ok'.. not wonderful.", I say the applique is GREAT! 
What to do?
Pat loves the pattern and the fabric so deciding what to do with it is a hard choice.  Pat kept thinking she could keep the block and add a solid cream border around it and use it for her  label
Then start over with new fabric and better skills!
Project Number 3

Some of you might recognize this "Happy Everything" project package from YEARS gone by.
Technically Pat could call this a project PACKAGE as she hardly did any work (Pat cut the panel on the right,  think it was a hankie).
Pat pulled all this to do a "Happy Everything" quilt for herself.. yes for Pat!
But it never did happen
What to do?
1- Pat could take the cake panels and do something JUST with them.
2- Pat could sell off one or the other of the panel sections
3- move the raspberry fabric BACK into my "Collection"... remember that's a fabulous word to describe your fabric!
Pat has alot of inspiration for us.  Amazing to see how each of us quilters have projects that we have begun over the years and for one reason or another have not completed. 
During a conversation with Roger the other night I came to realize that I have loved finishing projects that I have myself designed.  I start alot of other projects or patterns but find that I most love finishing the quilts that I myself have designed.  Wow......I had never thought about it that way before.  So one of my goals this year along with finishing up these UFO's is.......how can I change the project to make it what I truly want it to be in the end.  Goes right along with what Pat is saying in this tip.  Disassemble the "kit, pattern, fabrics" and make it your own style. 
*** So what can YOU Disassemble??? ***
Your assignment
  • PICK TWO UFOS (YES REALLY) Ones that you REALLY love the fabrics, but are pretty sure you NEVER want to finish
  • BUST those fabrics back into your stash
I believe I may have already accomplished this one, but I will dig deeper into my UFO's and see if there are any of these type projects left. 

Now for an update:

While watching NCIS last night I was able to sew some more of the blocks for my cathedral window quilt.  Remember that I already have all of the 9 1/2 inch squares cut and ready to sew by my featherweight machine.  So last night I was able to get this big pile done and ready to turn and press tonight at quilt bee.  Yippie!!
Progress.....I just love this! 

Hope you can get some quilting into your day today.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cathedral Window Tutorial

While getting things organized for completing my UFO's I realized that I had sewn my last cut out square for my cathedral window quilt.  Which meant that I had sewn my "pattern square size example" into the quilt already.  I had to hunt high and low to find my handwritten figures for the quilt.   whew........

After finding these figues I decided that it would be a good thing if I put the instructions into my blog so that I would not have the problem of losing this information in the future.  So a cathedral window tutorial has evolved.  I hope that if you have never tried a cathedral window project before that you will at least attempt a block or two and make a pillow or pincushion out of this pattern.  Who knows.....you may even decide to do a long term project and make a bed size quilt for yourself.

Here goes:
We will start with a 9 1/2 inch square of your background fabric.  This is the fabric that you will need large amounts of yardage depending on the size of the quilt you are making.  I am using 28 yars of this background fabric.
Next you will fold the square in half with right sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam up both sides.
Next you will, keeping right sides together, bring the two side seams that you just sewed together in the middle, matching seams and pin. 
This now makes the next side that you will sew together using a 1/4 inch seam.  Do NOT completely sew the seam.  You will need to leave about a 1 1/2 inch opening in the seam to turn the block inside out.
 Below you can see the opening I left for turning.
 Next you can stick your finger inside the opening and begin turning the block inside out.
Make sure you completed turn the block.
 After getting the block turned inside out you can use a cuticle stick or this "purple thingy" to make sure you get your points crisply turned.
After you have gotten your points crips you will have the block below.  Now it is time to press the block.  Taking care to keep the block square while pressing.  I PRESS, not iron back & forth.  This keeps you from distorting the square.
You can also use some spray starch to assist with this part.  Now fold two adjacent corners into the middle forming a point.  PRESS into this shape.
 Repeat the folding and pressing with the third and fourth corners.  You now will have the block below.
 This is the above block with the pressed points opened so you can now see what will be your STITCHING lines when assembling the blocks.
This below is the pressed block from the back.  This will be the back of your quilt.
 Once you have at least 4 blocks turned and pressed it is time to make a window block.  Lay two of your four pressed blocks side by side and pull up one tab from each block, making sure to keep the points together and the "pressed seam lines" matching up.  Pin this into place.
 I've laid the purple thingy below to show you where your seam line will be. 
Now take this to the machine and sew a straight seam directly on the pressed line.
Repeat this process with the other two blocks.  You will now have 2 twosies.  We will now repeat the above process with the twosies to make a window block which consists of 4 of the pressed blocks.
 I always pin my edge tabs of the blocks to keep them out of my way while I hand whip the windows in.  Just my little thing, but it sure does help keep them from flapping around and to me gives it a more "together" look.
 After the twosies are together you can press open your center windows on each block.  You will now have 4 windows to put your accent fabrics.
 I am using "brights" as my accent pieces.  So now center a 2 1/2 inch square into each window.  I usually stick one pin to keep these in place.
 Below is the window block with the four window accent fabrics pinned into place.
 The next step in the process is to gently turn back each of the edges around the window fabrics and hand whip into place.  I am using a beige thread that blends in with the background fabric.  This is the process that you can have ready to take with you where ever you need some handwork to do.  I have been working on this project since 2000 as a travel project.  I have collected bright fabrics from all over the continential United States, Hawaii, Cancun, Canada, Nassau, Cosumel, etc., as we have traveled.  So many memories are connected to these beautiful fabrics.
 Photo below shows the four side pinned and ready to be sewn down.
 Next is a close up of a completed window.
 When you have completed the four windows your block will look like this.  You continue adding "window blocks" until you get the project to the size you are planning to make.  Each time you sew this window block to another window block you make two new window areas in addition to the four in your block.
 This is the back of your completed block.  When you finish your last block you will have completed the quilt as this project is not quilted.  It is very heavy due to the amount of fabrics and all of the folded pieces so don't worry about not having any actual quilting.  Due to the heaviness also this will not be a "hanging quilt".  It will be a quilt that is draped or kept on a bed.
 Steady progress on your window blocks will give you the following.....a beautiful cathedral window quilt.
I hope that this tutorial has made sense to you and that you will some day attempt this project.

Happy quilting,