Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sometimes you have to wait on your bliss

Today is my birthday! But instead of a peaceful, easy feeling, this morning was more like "What fresh hell is this?" <vbg>

The hubster decided to take the day off to make me what I wanted for lunch (he's such a sweetheart about that, as well as many other things). He was in my office yesterday and when my boss heard him mentioning that he was taking off today, he suggested I do the same. I reminded him that I was out of the office Monday and didn't think I should take off today--he said do it, so I did.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Random musings, a flimsy and an Occasional Tuesday Tool Tip

When I gave Rodney his retirement quilt last month, one of my coworkers asked me how long it took me to make it. I told her that I don't typically track the amount of time I spend making quilts because that turns it into work. I have to track all my time at work and categorize it into components which gets reported up the flag pole. Tracking the time I spend on my passion seems pointless because that's time better spent quilting!

I do have a vague sense of how long I spend actually quilting the quilt, probably because it is still somewhat new to me and I'm still learning how to use my longarm. So, I started wondering how much time I really do spend quilting.

As an experiment, I thought I would track how much time I spend quilting each day in April, or until I get bored of tracking the time.

Tuesday, April 1 - 1 hour
Wednesday, April 2 - 1 hour
Thursday, April 3 - 2 hours
Friday, April 4 - 1 hour
Saturday, April 5 - 2 hours

...and that's when I bit into the Tootsie Pop. (Gosh, I miss those things. Can't eat them any more. Had one a couple of years ago and it made me sick.)

But the baby bullseye is now a flimsy! I finished it on Sunday and put it on the design wall and thought, " don't think so..."
Those borders did not make me happy. But I left it on the wall and it's still there and it's growing on me. I may shave off a couple of inches from the borders. I have the backing planned but I'm waiting to piece it because we're still 3 months away from the due date. I want to applique the baby's name on the backing and minds can change at the drop of a hat.

The "baby bullseye" is really a misnomer--it's not baby in size. The blocks finish at 12", while the original pattern by Country Threads has, I think, 9" blocks. I have more background showing than on the original pattern.

I will try to come up with any way to streamline the piecing of a quilt. I love quilts with lots of pieces but I do not enjoy cutting those pieces. I have an Accuquilt Studio die cutter and it's changed the way I quilt. The dies are spendy. If I see a pattern I want to make and I don't have the right die, I won't necessarily rush right to their website and order that die--I'll wait for a sale OR I'll adapt the pattern to the dies I have.

For this bullseye quilt, I cut 20 background squares at 13-1/2". I have circle dies in 8", 6" and 4" sizes, and cut 20 circles in each of those sizes. I stitched down all the circles to the background squares:

Then I placed the blocks on top of my die that cuts four (4) 6-1/2" squares:
Ran the blocks through the cutter, shuffled the blocks and ... voila!
I know there are plenty out there that think it's a whole lot of work doing it the way I do it. The beauty of this system is that the blocks are cut exactly the right size and it's a pleasure to sew these blocks together. Because the background block was 13-1/2", the cutter has trimmed down the blocks to size. I love it.

So I hope you've had some time to quilt this past week. It's just starting to warm up a bit here. Our heater is still on but we're supposed to hit the 80s this weekend. Sounds like a great time spend more time in the Bottoms Up! Studio.

Go quilt!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

April Goals

After the mad rush to complete Rodney's retirement quilt, I find myself in some down time while I ponder what I'll do next. I want need to do some general tidying and organizing in the Bottoms Up! Studio, and I want to find a UFO to finish. 

I spent a few minutes in the fabric cave where The Bins reside. The first one sticking out caught my eye. I opened it up and there was the Christmas half log cabin I pieced in 2007 (I think). 
 Can you tell I like low contrast quilts?

The top is pieced and needs borders. I should be able to complete it this month if I can steady my nerves enough to miter the borders. Yes, I've been quilting for over 20 years and have NEVER mitered any borders. 
Border fabrics...maybe
I will start a NewFO this month but don't know yet what it will be. As much as I like the current Leaders and Enders project, Lozenges, I can't seem to get worked up about going through my scrap heap for it. Instead, I will probably cull from my yardage. It is not in my makeup to cut down scraps to usable strips because I applique, and that stops me dead in my tracks. I'll continue to hoard my scraps and use them for something else and come up with another game plan for my own Leaders and Enders project.

I must stay in touch with my longarm (who needs a name) so she doesn't feel neglected and I don't have to reintroduce myself every time I meet her! I'm cleaning her up and getting her ready for LeiLani to use her to quilt some baby quilts, but I'll need to spend some quality time with her as well.

So, I'm actually going to set some goals for this month since I have no deadlines until June; I make more progress when I have deadlines.
  • Finish the baby bullseye quilt top - rows need to be pieced and add borders
  • Finish the Christmas half log cabin UFO top - add two mitered borders 
  • Quilt one quilt (!), I have a stack waiting...
    Just one of the stacks of flimsies
  • and complete 10 Trick or Treat blocks.
And to keep me on track, I'm linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes at Fiber of All SortsI'm not going to have nearly the amount of time I had last month to quilt, so it will be interesting to see how much I can accomplish.

Go quilt!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 2014 Progress Report

Great quilting weekends, an ice day and vacation contributed to lots of progress this month! Let's get on with it:

Rodney's Retirement Quilt is finally finished! The pattern is Three Tours from Fons & Porter, but I resized the quilt using 8" blocks and lengthened it a bit. The finished size is 55" x 70".

Swiss Mocha - Finally Finished - started in 2005! What I learned on this one--I cannot wait 2-1/2 months to get on the longarm. I quickly get rusty. And I overthink things. And I tend to like things densely quilted. This quilt did not need a dense design, but it got it. Finished size is 67" x 76".

In progress:
Trick or Treat - I am still enjoying the back basting method for applique! This month I completed 9 blocks--I would have completed more if not for the stitching down the bindings on the retirement and Swiss Mocha quilts.

Baby bullseye quilt for a grand nephew - the blocks are pieced and being joined into rows:

No NewFO this month. I was going to start the Leaders and Enders Lozenges project at Quiltville, but was so focused on completing the two quilts and working on the baby quilt that I ran out of time. Perhaps I'll start Lozenges in April. I also want to choose a UFO to complete now that Swiss Mocha is done.

Shopping in my Stash: I bought 4 yards of fabric this month for borders and backing on the baby bullseye quilt, and used 1 yard for binding, so I'm -1 for the year which means I'm not doing so hot. No worries; I have plans for using it.

How was your March? Here's hoping you have beautiful spring weather for April and get to quilt!

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Rodney's Retirement Quilt - the reveal!

Rodney's retirement quilt is completed and gifted to the honoree! I have to confess that this is the fastest quilt I have ever completed--nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your butt (for me, anyway). It only took me 2 hours to quilt it. I had quilted Swiss Mocha so densely that for this quilt I wanted only a loose meander. Just your basic loops, swirls and stars. It took me longer to stitch down the binding than it did for me to quilt it. 

I couldn't believe the hubster when he said, "You could have gone denser..."!

Quilt basted into the longarm:

Some detail shots - I used Fil-tec Glide in the top and bottom. This is the first time I have used Glide and the longarm and I like it!

 Off the frame and ready to trim:

The binding is some Moda fabric from about 10-11 years ago that's been waiting for a project just like this; I'm so glad I finally had the chance to use it!

I pieced the label into the back:

The front:

Today was Rodney's last day of employment and while he requested that we not have a party, we did gather our staff together in our library for cake and ice cream. Rodney and the quilt--I believe he is happy with it!

Checking out the back and the label
Rodney receiving his certificate of appreciation from the boss:

The label - I love to create labels! And I like to include the fabric contents and care instructions. My labels are typically 8" x 10" as is this one:

We will miss him. He and his wife Sandy have a son, daughter-in-law and beautiful grandson in Florida, and will be headed to visit them soon. He has worked hard and we hope he enjoys this new chapter in his life!

Here's hoping you can enjoy some quilting!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another staycation and first finish of 2014!

Several months ago when the school year started I decided I would take off the entire week of Spring Break. We had no plans to go anywhere; my #1 goal was to finish Rodney's retirement quilt. On Monday I finished hand stitching the binding, and tacked down the sleeve on Tuesday. I'll show it to you after I give it to him on Monday.

Some paperwork also got organized--a very good thing. I have a plan to keep the paper tiger tamed. The hubster and I are having The Talk soon and it feels good to have the hard part done.

When I'm home I start thinking about all the things I need to do, and things I probably shouldn't do. I made a list of some things that need to be done and then started thinking about how I'd like to rearrange the Bottoms Up! Studio. I have some ideas that we will revisit down the road.

AND Swiss Mocha is finally finished! 

Some detail shots:

I used Mettler 50 wt. cotton thread in color 511 on the top and bottom for the coffee bean quilting, and Aurifil 50 wt. in a cream color in the center of each block. This thing is densely quilted and took much longer to quilt than I intended. The batting is Nature's Touch by Pellon, 100% cotton, and I really like it.

The hubster asked me last night who was getting the quilt. I had honestly thought all along with this one that it would hang around the living room, either on the wall or draped over the sofa. But a comment he made a week or so ago got me thinking otherwise, so I told him, "It's yours!" 

I spent some time this afternoon working on the baby bullseye quilt; our youngest, David, came over with Emma and while David and his dad worked on the car, Emma helped me arrange the blocks--lots of fun! 

It's been a wonderful week--I have some errands to run tomorrow but hope to spend some more time in the studio before heading back to work on Monday. I'll have a progress report for March either Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

Go quilt!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

National Quilting Day... the BEST with FRIENDS! An impromptu gathering of three of my best quilting buds today in the Bottoms Up! Studio was fabulous. Deb, Katrina and LeiLani came over, we gathered in the studio and the hubster prepared a lovely lunch, while Katrina made dessert. Back to the studio after lunch and I was the only one that stitched--I worked on the baby bullseye quilt for the grand nephew coming into the world this summer. 

But we had a great time talking and catching up! Deb is going to be a grandma for the first time, Katrina has a new job, and LeiLani is going on another lovely trip soon. 

We don't get together that often but when we do, it's always good. We talked and laughed so much that I forgot to take any photos!

I've been practicing a quilting design for the retirement quilt and will be ready to quilt it tomorrow. I hope to get the quilting completed this week so I can work on the binding while I'm on vacation the following week.

Have a great week and happy quilting!