In my last post, I mentioned that, along with a lap quilt, I finished a small wall hanging in April…and I was only about 5 months too late completing it in time for the holiday season. There’s nothing like trying to find the motivation to finish a holiday project when the season has passed and you’re more than six months from it coming around again.
I’ve written about this project previously. Sometime last year I received this free pattern and a free panel of Ten Sisters Easy-piecing grid while attending Inspiration Day at InterQuiltin in Traverse City, MI. You may recall me complaining about how the easy-piecing grid did not make things easy-peasy.
It is possible that the sample I received was old and the glue was not as gluey as it could have been, but what I found was that I had to continuously schlep back over to the ironing board to repress fabric squares that were falling off the grid. I believe I could have completed the pattern much faster without the grid.
One other issue I noted with the grid after completing the project is that the seams are rather prominent. I believe this is due to the added thickness of the grid “fabric.”
While the pattern made a cute little hanging, the grid “fabric” gets a thumbs down from me.
While I was tying threads on the morning of May 1, I’m considering this quilt my finished project for April. Why? Because all I had planned to finish for April was the quilt top, but, with the weather not being hiking-friendly and Hubby being a bit sick, I found A LOT of weekend time (and a few weekdays) to devote to this quilt.
This is scrap quilt #5, and though I’m sewing up scraps faster than Cookie Monster eats cookies, my scrap box is not getting any less full. This is a phenomenon that I simply cannot understand.
I had originally planned to sew scrappy quilts until my pile of scraps was a more manageable size (like barely enough to fill a shoebox), but as this doesn’t seem to be happening, I may shove that big box of bits and pieces back in the closet and start on something that uses fabrics I’m not absolutely sick of at this point!
Along with using up a fair amount of more medium-sized scraps, I also used a good amount of yardage of 5 different fabrics for the backing that I wasn’t all that fond of anymore and which were of a lower quality fabric than what I generally purchase now. I also sewed together three scrap chunks of batting to make a piece large enough for this 72″x72″ quilt.
I’ll admit that I didn’t take as much time with the quilting as I ordinarily might and that there are drunks who can walk straighter lines than some of my quilting lines. But finished is better than perfect (especially for a scrap quilt) and a quilt with wonky quilting is just as warm as one with perfect quilting.
I also finished another quilt in April–just a small wall hanging that had been hanging out in the closet for a few months–but you’ll have to wait until next weekend to get a look at that one!
Us two weeks ago: Enjoying 70+ degree days with lots of walks around the neighborhood, traveling north and south to add new miles to our North Country Trail miles in Michigan, opening windows to let the fresh breeze in and the stagnant winter air out, wearing short sleeves and tank tops, going slipper- and sock-less inside, getting out the flip-flops, eating lunch on the deck, listening to the peep frogs peeping in the swamp…
Mother Nature last Monday: I’m sorry. Your 7-day free trial of summer has expired. How about some snow?
Ah, she’s a fickle sort, that Mother Nature. And knowing this, we have to take advantage when good weather comes our way. Indoor projects take a jump back on our to-do lists, and outdoor fun moves to the top of the list. (Notice I didn’t say “outdoor work.” When blessed with a week of wonderful weather in a month that is typically not filled with wonderful weather, we don’t squander those glorious days doing work. There will always be time for work later.)
But with winter, or at least a slightly more spring-ish version of winter, making a reappearance last week, it was time to once again focus on indoor activities. I spent several evenings adding to my current knitted afghan project and, just two nights ago, transitioned to color #3. I’m loving how this Irish Moss pattern is looking.
Also, this past weekend, as we were stuck mostly inside (except for a short walk around our property) due to rainy weather and Hubby being under the weather, I enjoyed nearly two full days at the sewing machine.
My goal for April was to finish one project. I had hopes of finishing another scrap quilt–if not the entire thing, then at least the quilt top. After two days in the sewing room (and crawling around the living room floor), I not only had the top completed, but the backing sewed, large scraps of batting pieced together, and the entire quilt pinned and ready to be quilted!
I do not enjoy piecing backings together or sewing together scraps of batting. This is usually the part of the project where I drag my feet for a LONG time and start something new. But I forced myself to get on with it. I spent one evening picking out backing material. As I didn’t have more than a yard or two of each piece and refused to buy anything new, I had to come up with several pieces that worked well together from my stash. I initially settled on some dark red and brownish-toned fabrics. After sleeping on this decision, I went back to my stash and pulled out some yellow, blue, and brighter red fabrics to use instead, as I felt like those worked better with the brighter quilt top. As for the batting, I had large bits left over from other projects and knew I could cobble together a large enough piece for this project. Not having to buy anything new is a total WIN, especially as this was a scrap project.
Now, will someone please explain to me why my scrap pile has not gotten smaller after 5 scrap quilts?
As I’ve been languishing in a state of eunie since “First Winter” arrived with its gloomy grey skies, I made finishing a project one of my goals for March.
(Judging by the state of our car, we are somewhere between Mud Season and Actual Spring, but I don’t recall passing through Fools Spring or Spring of Deception yet. Those must have occurred sometime during the night when I wasn’t awake to enjoy them. My sister-in-law believes we are on Sixth Winter, but as that isn’t listed on the generally accurate “11 Seasons of Michigan” list, I assume she has counted incorrectly. Or else I’m in denial. That’s probably it. I’m just thankful that the sun is shining even though there’s more snow predicted for the weekend and the road in front of our house is muddier than…I don’t know what.)
(And, by the way, don’t search for “Muddy Things” online when you’re looking for something innocent to compare a Michigan seasonal road in spring to. The top few results were totally innocent, then WHOAH! Not at all what I was looking for. And now you’re probably curious.)
(Also, if you don’t know what a seasonal road is, it’s a road that the county refuses to take care of even though the people who live on that road pay more than their fair share of taxes. What that means is that we, the residents of our neighborhood, are totally responsible for road maintenance and snow removal.)
Anyway…back to my March goals.
I listed two unfished objects as possibilities, and finally settled on completing a pair of socks as I knew finishing a quilt was probably not going to happen.
I’m actually pretty impressed. After making note after note to myself in the margins of my sock pattern, I, for the first time ever, got through the entire pattern without any major problems, creative cursing, or much stitch-picking-out. (On the second sock in the pair. The first one still gave me some troubles.) I think writing “Don’t be an idiot” in a few places on the pattern made a difference.
This is my third pair of knitted socks. As it generally takes me quite some time to finish a pair, I have an aversion to actually wearing any that I’ve made! I’m vowing right now that I’m going to rectify that situation when Spring officially arrives (weatherwise, not date-on-the-calendar wise) and I can put away all my wooly socks.
Project note: I made these with Premier Serenity Sock yarn that I purchase on clearance at Joann Fabrics for $2.97 a skein. I bought two skeins and have enough left that I could maybe eek out a second pair of socks. This yarn worked up just as well as the vastly more expensive sock yarn I previously used. It will be interesting to see how both types wear.
This past month, I also made a teeny tiny little dent in my scrap pile by sewing up a lot of scrappy triangles. I am still many triangles away from having enough for a quilt. It’s fun to watch these scrap projects come together, though I am more than ready to move on to some different fabrics! I feel like I’ve been staring at the same patterns for decades.
Which I have, as my scrap collection spans 25 years of quilting.
(Do you see that dark blue fabric on the right side forming the point of the triangle? That was one of the first fabrics I bought after I purchased my sewing machine. It was used in a bed quilt that took me 19 years to finish. In case you’re curious, that wasn’t 19 continuous years of sewing. It probably would have only taken 6 months if I hadn’t kept getting distracted by other projects. One of the pinks was used in the first project I ever finished: a baby quilt for our first daughter.)
Now, ask me about my progress on the rest of my March goals.
I’ve not had a lot of time to spend in the sewing room lately. Our middle daughter has been home from college a lot this semester due to participating in a local internship and I seem to get next to nothing done when she’s home. (Other than cooking more.)
I spent a few minutes recently just playing around with scraps while I waited on Hubby to be ready to do something. I can’t remember what we were going to do. Shopping, skiing, clearing snow? Who knows? My memory doesn’t seem to be quite what it used to be.
But I didn’t want to do exactly the same thing I’d done before. So I started playing around with an idea I’d had a while ago.
For this project, I cut 4″ x 6″ rectangles out of paper and then cut them on the diagonal to make triangles. Then I sewed random strips of fabric on as one would do for paper piecing. I’m hoping to get a few more sewn up this weekend so I can see how I want to arrange the triangles.
Earlier this week, I also took an afternoon to give the sewing room/office a good cleaning. What sparked this tidying frenzy was high-speed internet. Weird, right?
Here’s the story:
We’ve lived in the Dark Ages for a long time. When we moved to our neighborhood in 2001, we were using dial-up. Dial-up was dying a quick death at the time, as it wasn’t sufficient for loading fancier websites. When it became ponderously slow, we ditched that. Our internet options were seriously limited. We spent A LOT of time at the library, using the free internet available there, when the kids were young. Then satellite internet became available. Unfortunately, it had very low data caps. Once reached, we’d be throttled down to slow speeds again. Then it was back to the library for the rest of the month. Then we got phones with Hotspots that we could use to connect our laptops. The only problem: We only had 10 GB available. It was something, but it wasn’t perfect. Then we switched phone companies and got 40. (Still not enough for a month of TV watching, so we were still stuck paying for satellite TV.) First World problems, am I right?
Miracles do happen, folks. We saw strangers hanging wires and weird stuff from our power poles this past fall and we could finally be like the “cool” people in town with high-speed internet. AMAZING!
So anyway… This past week we had the fast stuff hooked up and decided that now that we weren’t limited to how we could arrange our living room due to needing to keep the tv tethered to the satellite cables coming in through one wall, we would turn our entire living room around.
We took a look at the old television cabinet that we’d been using as a clutter catcher (clutter being my knitting stuff and board games) and thought we could maybe find a new home for it. (We’d started using another piece of furniture to hold the television a few years ago.) After thinking and pondering for a while, I had the idea that I could repurpose that cabinet in the sewing room.
Voilá! It makes the perfect place to store our files, my scrapbooking supplies, and random office stuff.
Last week, in the midst of normal schedule upheaval, I actually managed to make progress on a project. Our week was bookended by an apartment-hunting trip downstate with our middle daughter on Monday and a funeral downstate on Friday. As Hubby didn’t take time off for these activities, choosing instead to conduct business from his temporary home office of the passenger seat, I was forced to drive…which meant driving three times through a city I hate driving through. (He drove back on Monday saving me from the city once.)
Knowing that this week was going to be equally tiring–with a trip downstate to visit our oldest daughter, another funeral, and a concert to which we were taking our younger two in the cards–I chose to spend the middle of last week taking it easy.
There were naps. There was time for reading. There was time for sewing. There was time for knitting. I chose to recharge so I wouldn’t go into this week with my batteries already drained. Sometimes you have to think about yourself and know your limits. I am thankful to be in a position to be able to take time to rest. (As an introvert, all the people-ing and hugging and socializing like we had last week sometimes makes me want to curl up in a quiet cave somewhere.)
I spent the week working on my current scrap project. I have enough blocks finished and sewn into strips to almost double the size. Which means I’m about halfway finished. This one is going to be pretty large.
Once I ran out of the strips I’d cut at an earlier time, I spent a couple hours one day refilling my strip box.
Now that my box is almost full, it’s time to sit down and sew.
Project notes: Strips are cut between 1″ and 2-1/4″ wide. I cut them longer than 5.” I sew the strips together into a rough square of just over 5.” Then I even it all up to 5″ square.
I always start each month with the best of intentions. Then something happens. Or lots of things happen. And then nothing happens, especially anything related to my intentions and carefully made plans.
My goal for January, as I mentioned last weekend, was to finish up one unfinished object. Will that be happening? Nope.
I pulled an unfinished project from the closet, cut lots and lots of strips of fabric, sewed up several blocks, then got bored of cutting and sewing strips. So I put that project aside and pulled out my English Paper-Piecing flowers. You know I’m bored when I pull out anything that involves hand sewing.
The photo above is the one I shared last weekend. The bottom photo shows the progress I’ve made over the past week. Clearly, this is not a speedy project. Or, clearly, I’m not a speedy hand-sewer. It’s probably the latter.
Each flower takes me approximately 1 hour to sew. So, doing up the math quickly and probably totally inaccurately in my head, I’ll probably have about 4 bazillion hours into stabbing needles through paper hexis by the time this thing is big enough to cover anything bigger than a baby.
As for how big it’s going to end up being…who knows. Least of all me.
With the holidays over, my enthusiasm for finishing the Christmas “Joy” wall-hanging I previously wrote about has waned. It has joined the other UFOs (UnFinished Objects) in the closet. These, and my fabric scraps, seem to multiply like rabbits every time I turn my back. I’m almost convinced there’s a little sewing elf running wild in my sewing room at night cutting up new scraps to replace any I’ve used.
Since there are so many scraps, I’ve forged into the New Year, once again, with a goal to tame the pile. (I think that was my goal for last year.)
But there’s one problem.
I’m so bored with my scraps! I’m practically knee-deep in scrap quilts and scrappy pillows, but my fabric pile (mountain, is more like it) doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller. The pieces are, but the pile is not. It’s one of life’s greatest mysteries.
However, I will persevere.
With my January goal being to finish one UFO, I pulled out this easy one:
Over two days I put together around a dozen new 5″ squares. Each square consists of strips ranging from 1″ – 2″ wide. I’m not certain I’ll be able to complete this project in January, but I’m hoping to at least have the quilt top finished. I have a ways to go as it is only about 40″ square at this point. (Then I’ll procrastinate the sewing of the backing, the pinning, and the quilting for a few months because those aren’t my favorite parts in the process! I had this wild idea of quilting stars on it. We’ll see.)
With boredom setting in after cutting strip after strip, I also did a little hand-sewing and added a few more EPP flowers to the quilt top that, at the rate I’m making progress, will probably not be finished in my lifetime.
A few months ago…actually, now that I think about it, it was July…my mom and I went to an Inspiration Day at Interquilten in Traverse City, MI. (Time is just passing so quickly!) The theme of the day was Christmas in July, and as it was “Christmas,” there were presents involved. Our gift: a panel of Ten Sisters Easy-piecing Grid and a Christmas pattern.
My first thought was, “I’m never going to make that.” At the time, I wasn’t a fan of the pattern, mainly because I already had a couple of Christmas-themed hangings and wasn’t certain where I would put another one. I also thought that the Easy-piecing grid was just an unnecessary step to add to the quilt-making process.
That pattern and that grid laid on a table in the sewing room for months until mid-December when I looked at it and came within inches of depositing it in the garbage. Gasp! I know. I should have found a quilter to gift it to, but I was suffering from a room full of scraps and piles and was in a tossing mood.
But I ended up giving that pattern a second look. I had Christmas scraps and I didn’t know where else to use them. I figured I might as well give the project a try. I surely had enough scraps and wouldn’t need to buy anything, so I’d be able to whip the whole thing up super quick. It did use “Easy” grid after all, right?
I ended up purchasing a yard of both a red and an off-white fabric as I didn’t have just the perfect fabrics in my stash to make the project look the way I wanted. (Luckily, I got both on sale)
And “Easy?” Lies. Lies. Lies. I’m not going to blame the product totally. We were given it free, so it’s possible it was old and the shop was trying to get rid of it and the glue wasn’t quite at its peak of gluiness. I ironed and ironed and ironed, but I still had squares of fabric falling off left and right. So…zero stars for ease of use. I do give it ten stars for creating near-perfect seams. Would I use it again? No. I think all the ironing and replacing of escaping pieces took way more time than just doing it the normal way.
My goal was to finish the hanging before Christmas. Unfortunately, due to some good-natured grumbling, I ended up spending my sewing time leading up to the holidays making three more stockings. I’d originally made four–one each for our daughter’s boyfriend and his son, one for our middle daughter’s fiance, and one for our son’s girlfriend. Then our son pointed to his sad, droopy stocking and wondered why his looked so bad and why he and his sisters did not have stockings with their names on them. So I made three more stockings. (They were a great way to use up leftover denim scraps and some knit I’ve had for over 15 years.)
Now that the holidays are over, my enthusiasm for a holiday project has waned just a bit. The question is, will I finish the hanging now or will I wait until next December when the Christmas mood strikes again?
What an autumn it’s been. Between traveling the first week of October and all of the fall chores we’ve been attempting to jam into the few days of decent weather we’ve been blessed with so far this month, the days have flown by. Now it’s almost November, and I am not anywhere close to being ready for winter. (We’ve already had a few days of snow that didn’t stick around, so we know winter isn’t far off.)
The lawn is covered with leaves–mostly wet leaves since it’s rained so much–and there are still so many more that need to fall yet, making raking/leaf blowing useless at this point. I did spend a couple hours this past weekend moving leaves from the “lawn” to “not the lawn,” but by the time I’d finished it looked like I’d done almost nothing.
Then there’s been the firewood issue. Hubby cut down a massive oak near our pond. As he’s cut it into chunks and split it, I’ve loaded it into the wheelbarrow and made the long trudge up the hill to the woodpile over and over. If I think of it as mountain climbing training, I think some of the misery is lessened. But I’m not sure. It’s still a pretty miserable task. And what’s extra infuriating is that for each trip from the pond to the wood pile, which is clearly the equivelant of 3 flights of stairs, the health app on my phone only gives me credit for 1 flight of stairs. Not that I do anything with the numbers the health app gives me. I just don’t want my phone to think I’m a slacker.
While the rain has kept us from getting our outdoor woork completed as quickly as we’d like (work completed=more time for fall hiking), the rain has provided me with an excuse to hibernate inside with good books and sewing projects.
I’m not sure I’ve ever completed a project as quickly as I completed this owl hanging. I just knew, after finally pulling this pattern out after years of having it filed away, that I just HAD to get these cuties up on the wall this fall.
When I last wrote about this project a couple weeks ago, I was debating whether to satin stitch around each wonder-undered piece of fabric with matching thread or use that dreadful clear thread to do a blanket stitch around the edges. I ended up using the dreadful clear thread, which didn’t misbehave as much as it has in the past.
(I think I finally figured out the secret to keeping that clear thread from breaking. Rather than place the spool on the spindle on the sewing machine, I’ve been putting the spool in a jar that I place a little bit behind the machine. This seems to let the thread come off the spool better. I also set the tension pretty low on the machine. If anyone has any better ideas, please drop them in the comments!)
After blanket-stitching around each piece of fabric, I quilted freehand around the owls, leaves, and branches. I added quilting on the underside of the wings as the pattern showed and added some freehand leaves. Considering I’m not much of an “artist” and have minimal freehand quilting skills, I think the leaves turned out pretty well.
I’m particularly fond of the hanging tabs that I made for this project using a pattern from a previous project. To make the tabs, cut fabric rectangles twice as wide (plus seam allowance) as you want them to be when finished. Cut to the length desired. Fold in half, right sides together and sew along the long edge and one short edge. Turn right side out. Place the tab along the edge of the back side of the quilt, raw edges together, and sew in place. Sew binding on normally. Once the binding is sewn down to the back side of the quilt, fold the tabs over and sew in place on the front. Add a cute button. I just happend to find two wooden buttons in my massive can of buttons that came from my grandmother and great-grandmother that I thought would go nicely with the outdoorsy theme of this hanging.