Monday, May 18, 2015

Making Time

The other day my friend Karrie asked me where I found the time to make so many quilts (many being, of course, relative...because I don't feel like I actually make that many quilts).

I've never really thought of it as "making time" because it's just what I do with my time. I have to make time to go grocery shopping or do the dishes or to have people over but I never have to make time to quilt or knit. It is the default thing I do.

I thought it would be fun to document a typical weekend day where I have no other obligations. So, here's what I did yesterday:

7am - Wake up, feed the cats who are OMG starving!

7:15 - Make coffee and cut some squares for my Great Grandma quilt. My stack is growing!!
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8:00 - Cut fabric for two hexagon potholders, cut Great Grandma squares from those fabrics and put everything away.
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8:30 - Cut paper hexagons.

8:45 - Iron and sew backing for Kensington Gardens quilt.
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9:30 - Sweep floor.

9:35 - Look for packing tape.

9:40 - Remember that I ran out while I was at the post office the other day...found some masking tape!

9:45 - Tape backing to floor, spray baste batting and top, remove tape.
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10:45 - Put sewing room back together, straighten up, take a mini-break, shower, makeup.
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11:30 - Set up machine and quilt.
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12:00 - Out to lunch (Indian buffet...mmmm!)

1:10 - Back to quilting.
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2:30 - Half finished with quilting, time for a break...accidental nap on the couch.

3:30 - More quilting.
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5:00 - Finished quilting! Trim quilt, cut and sew binding.
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6:15 - Sew binding to back. Normally one side of the binding is much wider than the other. I'm trying to make them more even by using a 3/8" seam allowance.
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7:15 - On a normal sewing day, I'd probably quit for the night and we'd make dinner...but neither Ian nor I felt hungry and we both had stuff we wanted to do. So, I started sewing the binding to the front of the quilt. Looks good on the front but not quite perfect on the back. Ideally, the stitching would be right next to the binding, not ON it. I need more practice but I'm pretty happy with my first try.
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8:00 - Only 1/2 finished sewing the binding but it's time for dinner: cook a homemade pizza, do some dishes.

9:00 - Eat dinner and watch a really sad episode of Black Mirror. (Speaking of Black Mirror...it is WEIRD and the first episode was gross but it is SO engaging! I just sit staring for the entire episode and when it's over, I finally take a breath...it's really good! It's on Netflix streaming.)

10:00 - Reading and bedtime!

So, there it is. My entire day. I'm so happy that I'm almost finished with the Kensington Gardens quilt. I'm giving this one to Karrie and I'll make the second one to keep. We'll be quilt twins!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Listless

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I had planned to do a lot of sewing this weekend but it didn't quite work out that way. We spent a lot of time buying plants and pots and soil and then potting everything and then carrying everything upstairs to our balcony. Soon (well, soon-ish) we will have fresh basil and tiny tomatoes and everything wonderful, right outside our door. And a friend offered us free tickets to see The Crucible at the Guthrie on Sunday...so we gladly added that to our schedule!

And the rest of the time I felt listless. And headachy and sort of blah and not that creative. I sewed a few blocks for my Parisville quilt but it didn't hold my attention for long. So, I ended up digging through some bins for inspiration.

I found a few orphan blocks...some traditional, some scrappy. There was a block of pink strips that felt like it should be a bag, somehow. I've been wanting to try Jeni Baker's tutorial for her lined drawstring bag so I got to work. The tutorial (and the bag) did not disappoint! I really love how it turned out.

I've decided that whenever possible, I would like to "wrap" gifts in reusable handmade bags. I have so much fabric and the bag is an extra gift...win/win! This little bag went straight to the gift box before Extra-cat could fall asleep on it.

And then I decided to use the rest of the orphan blocks to make potholders. I got out my Insul-Bright and immediately remembered why I hate making potholders. The Insul-Bright is crinkly...as in, it makes a crinkly noise. For some reason I just can't stand that noise, even though it is very slight and I know tons of people like it just fine and use it all the time for potholders.

Do you like Insul-Bright? If so, I'm clearing out my stash and I'd love to give you some! Leave a comment and we'll chat.

So, anyway, rather than give up, I decided to make a test potholder with just regular cotton batting. I cut an orphaned block and backing to 9", quilted it with four layers of cotton batting and then trimmed everything to 8.5". I really love curved corners on potholders but I've never tried it before...so I tried it! And I made bias binding for the first time. The stitching on the front is fine but everything went a little crazy on the back. Not too bad for my first try but there is definitely room for improvement.

I tested the potholder with our heavy pizza stone in a 550 degree oven. I felt no noticeable difference between my new potholder and an Insul-Bright potholder I made a while back. I now feel comfortable making plain-old cotton batting potholders and giving them away as gifts. I'm excited that my orphan blocks will finally have a home!

And that's about all I did this weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pink Snow

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I've been inspired by my friend Sara to take up crochet again. It's been years since I picked up a hook. What could tempt me back into it? Granny hexagons, of course!

Every time I finish a hexagon and crochet it to the rest, I run over to show Ian...and every time he just glances at it and asks me what I'm making. Not how pretty it is or how he can't even begin to fathom how I'm able to create such loveliness with just my two delicate hands, not how much he admires my skill and creativity and my amazing ability to combine colors. I mean, maybe (probably) he's thinking those things but that's not what comes out of his mouth.

So, to answer his question, I'm actually not sure what I'm making. I guess that depends on how many hexagons I feel like crocheting. Ideally, I would like to stick with this until I have something that's a useful size...either a wrap or small blanket. But perhaps I'll end up with a pillow cover. Who knows.

The mornings have been beautiful lately and there are flower petals caught in the wind. It looks like pink snow.

Since finishing the Liberty top, I'm in search of another half-finished project to work on. In digging through my bins I found a whole stack of Parisville squares. I have a pattern in mind and I'm already planning it out on the design wall. This is going to be a fun one!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Liberty Weekend

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One Liberty top is finished! This one measures 64" x 80". Once you get going, these 4-patches go together pretty quickly. The pattern is based on my great grandmother's quilt.

Thank you for your ideas for backing. I ended up buying a beautiful cotton lawn from Hawthorne Threads. It's Robert Kaufman, Lennox Gardens, Royal Floral in Rose and also in Sunrise. I like how it's Liberty-esque but is a much larger print and is a third the cost of Liberty. It also feels almost like Liberty, nice and light and soft.

One thing I want to share about sewing with Liberty tana lawn: you need really sharp needles. I think I went through at least a dozen while sewing this top (I use size 11 for piecing). Maybe that's a normal amount for some people...so if it is, be prepared to use two dozen.

Thanks to this quilt, I burned through the last few packs of the needles I bought when I bought my machine...what, 4 years ago? And now that I need to buy new ones, I'm shocked to find that they cost, like, $1 a piece! Who knew?! Thankfully the website where I bought my sewing machine sells 100 Organ needles for $30. So, I'm pretty much set for a while...which is good because I have to finish up one more Liberty 4-patch top and quilt them both. Maybe I should have bought 200?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Random Spring

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Spring blankets are on the bed, spring colors are on the cutting table, spring flowers are in bloom. It's sunny and bright and that makes me want to sew sunny, bright things.

As much as I love the Liberty 4-patch I've been working on...well, I needed a little break. So, I grabbed the springiest fabric in my stash and started cutting. This will be my second Dream On quilt. I love these prints! Vintage sheets, sun in leaves, warm summer breezes...that's what I think of when I see these fabrics.

My first Dream On quilt is still just a top. I'm pretty sure I added a border to this after I blogged about it 4 years ago. I have so many quilts I want to finish and yet I keep starting more. Oh well, what can you do?

Hope you enjoy this beautiful Friday!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sparkling Diamond

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Sparkling Diamond...that's the name that popped into my head the second I got the idea for this quilt. I finished up the top fairly quickly and then stowed it in the closet for a few years. It was going to be a quilt for me, like all the quilts I ever start. Only...I don't feel that way anymore. Now instead of keeping all my quilts, I feel like giving some away to friends and family. I want to send them out into the world to new homes, to be loved by other families.

This quilt went to live at my friend Jen's house. She's one of my best friends and also my best quilting friend. We talk about quilts a lot! Before her, I never knew how amazing it is to have a friend who understands this huge part of my life. I mean, Ian will listen to me talking about quilts as long as I'm willing to keep talking...and he does have certain opinions on things like fussy cutting and Dresden plates...but it's not the same as talking to someone who actually quilts. Someone who has made a quilt before...who knows how fun it is to cut up fabric and then sew it back together.

And so, it felt really good to finish this quilt and send it to my lovely friend. Ian is jealous...he really liked this one, unlike most of the quilts I make (just so you know, he does NOT like the Velvet Petals quilt...the nerve!). I tried echo quilting for the first time. I also tried using a bone folder to mark the quilt (similar to a hera marker) and it worked really well.

It'll be another month before I have another finished quilt to show you. I'm hoping to finish and baste one of the Liberty 4-patch tops this weekend (the other will be on hold for a while...I'm a little 4-patched out). I just bought some aqua Liberty fabric to use for binding but I have no idea what to do for backing. I need to figure it out soon if I want to stay on schedule. What would you use? I was thinking of using actual Liberty fabric but that would be SUPER expensive.

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