Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September's Accomplishments

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Over the past few months, I've been slowly working out a system of goal-setting. All my life I've been terrible when it comes to actually accomplishing goals. As soon as I set one, I rebel against it and work on other things. I get NOTHING done and feel scattered all the time.

But I want to change, I want to be better. I want to actually finish the things I start. And with a little trial and error, I think I've finally found a plan that works for me.

The plan is as follows:

Each month I will identify one achievable quilting/sewing goal that I would like to accomplish by the end of the month. Most of the time the goal will be to finish a particular quilt but not always.

I'd also like to set one knitting/weaving goal to keep some projects moving along.

Once those items are finished, I'm free to work on anything I want for the rest of the month. It could be finishing old projects or starting new ones. If I drag my heels on my main goal, I won't have as much time to work on other things. It's a nice incentive to get to work!

I love this plan because the structure helps me focus and get things done while the flexibility allows me the space to feel creative. There are always going to be a million projects I "need" to finish but I don't have to feel obligated to finish them all at once. As long as I'm accomplishing my goals slowly and steadily, I will not feel bad for starting something new or for jumping from project to project.

I tested out this plan last month and here's how it went:

September's Goals:
Start and finish a Fly the Flag quilt
Finish my Happy Half Moon shawl

September's Accomplishments:
Started and finished my Fly the Flag Quilt (finished photos to come)
Completed two quilt tops: improv curves and Skull Sampler
Finished nine Moonrise Kingdom blocks
Cut an entire quilt's worth of 12" Glam Clams plus some bonus Drunkard's Path blocks
Finished and gifted one Jane Market Bag

September's Failures:
I knit only 3/4 of my Happy Half Moon shawl. I'm a little bummed about this because I wanted to keep up with knottygnome's knit-along. But in the end, I just couldn't do it. I can only knit so much before my wrist or shoulder hurts and I really didn't want to push myself too hard. That said, if I had worked on it a little every day, I would have finished. Let this be a lesson for next month: set a daily goal for projects that I'm struggling to work on.

So, that's it for September. A pretty successful month of work! October's goals will go up tomorrow. I can't wait!

Glam Clams + Mendocino

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September has been the month of making snap quilting decisions. After I finished the improv curves top I was thinking about how sewing those curves wasn't really that hard. And I started looking through flickr for curved quilt block inspiration. Drunkard's Path blocks were definitely high on my list.

And then I discovered Latifah Saafir's FREE machine stitched Glam Clam pattern (she also has patterns for 8", 6" and 4" clams). In an instant, I decided not only to give these clams a try but to also use Mendocino, my favorite and most treasured fabric.

For years I've been looking for a pattern that was special enough for Mendocino yet had large enough blocks to show off the prints. And 12" clams will be perfection!

I spent an entire week slowly, slowly cutting clams. This entire quilt will be a slow project and I don't mind in the least. The more time I can spend with this fabric, the better. I might even hand quilt it!

Also, since clams leave lots of curvy scraps behind, I took the opportunity to cut pieces for Drunkard's Path blocks at the same time. I'm going to mix in some solids to give the eye a rest and to stretch the Mendocino a little bit. I have some left over and can cut more if I need to but I'll see what I can do with these first.

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Cutting fabric for these Mendocino quilts was a fun adventure but I'm planning to set them aside for now so I can focus on October's featured quilt. Stay tuned for the reveal tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Moonrise Kingdom

Have you seen Moonrise Kingdom? If I could represent my dream life through home d├ęcor, this would be it. There would be warm wood and quirky paintings, nooks and crannies filled with field guides and record players and Sunday-school shoes. There would be needlepoint pillows and window seats and plaid everything. And most of all, there would be vintage quilts.

As I was watching the movie (again) this weekend, I paid special attention to the quilts. This time, a particular quilt caught my eye. I'm always on the lookout for vintage quilts that have a traditional AND modern feel. It's hard to define exactly what I'm looking for. I really love an interesting block paired with fun prints, plaids and gingham (like this). Bright colors are best, browns are not my thing.

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The quilt on the left fits the bill exactly! So busy, so colorful!

I ran to the sewing room that instant and started pulling fabric. I grabbed every print that was busy and felt vintage-y. I pulled stripes and a gingham and then desperately wished I had more gingham!

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I cut 9" squares and paired them up: one small scale print with one geometric/large scale print. I'm not sure what this block is called but it's made up of 4 quarter square triangle blocks. The block is 14" finished (I'm making 20 blocks for a twin/lap quilt).

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So far, I'm LOVING these blocks. They're a great way to use the prints I never seem to use. This quilt is supposed to be busy so you can use just about any print and color.

That said, I have no idea what to use for sashing. I like the busy print from the inspiration photo but I'm not sure I can bring myself to do it. Maybe a blue floral on white? Blue on blue print? Maybe dots? I don't know!

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I'm planning my October goals and will post them on Thursday. I'm going to make space in my schedule to work on this quilt. I just can't stop thinking about it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finally Fall

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It's been a mighty fine week! I finished the skull sampler quilt top and ordered the backing fabric. I started a new quilt using my most treasured fabrics (more on that later). And it's finally fall!

I have all this energy and I just want to make things! I have an unexpected four day weekend so I'm making my to-do list early. I would love to finish up the improv curves quilt and if the fabric comes soon, I'll get a start on the skull sampler quilt as well. It would feel so good to finish those quilts by the end of September.

I'm already thinking about my goals for October. I'm making a list of pumpkin things I want to make and I have my October quilt all planned out. Just a hint: it's going to get spooky around here! I love that it's Fall!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Vacation: Days 5-9

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Since I didn't have a backing for the improv curves quilt, I decided to spend the rest of my vacation working on a new quilt. I've made several quilts for my friend Karrie but this time, the request came from her husband Mike.

It was so funny...Karrie and I were looking at a stack of my finished quilt tops and Mike saw my Modify Tradition top. He said that he "really liked the shapes". I told him I'd finish it and give it to him but I could tell there was something he wasn't asking. When I pressed further, it finally came out that he really liked the quilt that I made for Ian when we first started dating, especially the colors: black and red with skulls. But since he liked the "shapes" of the Modify Tradition quilt so much, he wondered if I could re-make it in different colors.

Of course! So, that's what I've been doing. Lots of black and skulls and bats going on over here. It was fun making some traditional blocks too. It's been a while. So long that my 1/4" seam is off and all my blocks came out a tad too big. But that's alright since this layout is great for too big/small blocks.

Each block is sashed in black, then a print, then black again and squared up to 22". In the last picture, you can see a finished block on the bottom left.

By the end of my last vacation day I had 7 finished blocks, 6 of them sewn together into a half a top. Not too shabby!

Tutorials for the blocks I used can be found here:
Top Row: Churn Dash, Nine Patch, Starflower, Courthouse Steps
Center Row: Broken Dishes, Dutchman's Puzzle, Amish Diamond, Ohio Star
Bottom Row: Quatrefoil, Antique Tile, The Dandy, Skinny Nine Patch

Friday, September 18, 2015

Vacation: Days 4-5

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After I finished my Fest quilt last week, I was inspired to get back to work on this curvy improv orphan block quilt. These blocks came from Lynda and were her first try at sewing curved seams. And because she sent them to me, I sewed curved seams for the first time.

With my inspiration quilt in mind, I arranged blocks and bits and strips on my design wall until I found a layout that I liked.

Then I stared at it a long time trying to figure out how to piece it. Eventually, I found some large areas that could be divided up and marked them on the wall with ribbon. Then I worked to fill in those spaces with white fabric.

I really love how this top turned out! I didn't have enough of anything to back the quilt, not even all my bits and pieces put together so I bought something new that I think will work well. I didn't get it in time to work on it during my vacation but I'm planning to finish it up by the end of September. I'm really looking forward to quilting this one.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vacation: Days 1-4

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I spent the first four days of my vacation working on my fest quilt. And I finished it!! I'm so in love with this quilt and it came together so quickly. Seven sewing days in total (at approximately 8-10 hours per day).

I was at a loss for how to quilt this. There aren't many seams so I didn't need to do dense quilting. But what overall pattern would "go" with the theme? I didn't feel like straight line quilting was quite right. I had settled on loops like my Lake quilt but I wasn't happy about it. Then, just before I started quilting I remembered this style of loopy quilting and knew it was the right choice.

I was scared that my loops would look bad but I went ahead anyway. And they went WAY better than expected. It was a more natural movement than the other style of loops. Not every loop is consistent but that's what I like about quilting on a home machine. I like the personality and texture that is created.

I don't have finished quilt pictures but I found the perfect place for the photo shoot so I'll put them up next week.

And in case you're interested, I found a picture of me wearing the Renaissance Festival dress I made back in 2002 (or 03?). The photo is from 2006 when I was just a lass of 25. What fun times I had in that dress!

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Photo © Scott Miron 2006

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Refreshed

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I'm back and feel so refreshed after my week of vacation. It was the best! I sewed nearly 10 hours every day. When I wasn't sewing I was knitting or reading or watching movies or going to lunch with Ian. We found a new breakfast place for the one time a year I can drag him out of bed early enough for breakfast. It was perfection!

I finished my Fest quilt and a quilt top and got started on a new quilt requested by a good friend. I made a Jane Market Bag for Ian's dad for his b-day. I bought a lot of black fabric. I feel like I got so much done and can't wait to get back to it this weekend.

I'll be back soon with pictures of my progress. It's too much for one post!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fest Quilt Progress!

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Renaissance Festival Quilt

Check it out! I managed to make 28 blocks over my three day weekend. These blocks are super easy and hardly take any time to assemble once the fabric is cut. The part that takes the longest is deciding on fabric pairings.

I have all of next week off of work and Ian will be busy with school things. I'll have SO much time to sew! If I can keep up this momentum, it's totally possible to finish this quilt by the end of my vacation.

I really like this idea of having one quilt be the priority for the month. It allows me to just focus on something I want to do and not feel pressured to get a million other things done.

I already have October's quilt planned but I won't let myself start that one until the first weekend in October. Once my fest quilt is done, I'll use the rest of September to work on one of my many works in progress, probably one of the orphan block quilts. It's a nice system. I feel like there is enough time to do it all.