Thursday, February 11, 2016

Winter Retreat, 2016

Official camp photo
The Universe took a pause and allowed me to attend Quilt Retreat over my birthday weekend in January.  All my favorite quilt-y friends were there, which was good because there was a lot of emotional family stuff happening at the same time.

The Projects

Challenge blocks: this year's challenge was to make a 12" finished block using floral fabrics with a cream background.  The challenge as I saw it was to find such florals in my fabric stash so that I could stitch up a block using them.

As I have done in the past, I took the opportunity of making a single block using a new pattern or technique.  I used a tutorial from Barbara's blog Cat Patches to make a circle applique--with no hand sewing and no fusible+topstitching required.  The block turned out wonderful! And a pretty simple technique, too.  You can bet I'll be using this again in the future.

1930's Scrappy: my main goal for retreat was to finish this top.

Before retreat began, I had all the 16-patch blocks made, and a few of the X blocks started.

Took my usual amount of time to make 24 X blocks, and somehow got all the rows and columns put together.  Yay! 

However, ran into a bit of difficulty when it came to size: this only measures 56 inches square.  Needs borders.  And, since this is a scrappy/stashbusting project, I am limited in my fabric choices.  Too much fussy thinking necessary to make this next step work out... for now.  I put it aside.

Black & white BOM blocks: I was determined to get a bit ahead of the game for the final 6 months of the BOM I am leading at the shop.  I made 5 blocks, and that felt very good.

And that wraps up another quilting retreat.

Thank goodness for friends.  And my hobby--which distracts and calms me when life gets to be a little bit too much.  What does your ideal retreat look like?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First finish: one placemat

Voila!  The first finish of 2016 is on display.

A single placemat.  Paper-pieced, from a pattern I designed, using Sushi Roll fabrics (Asian fabric mini-bundles sold at New Pieces quilt shop).  The background fabric is more of a long-stashed navy twill that I used in a table runner last year.

The reason for a single placemat?  Well, you see, prototype.  Test of concept.  Plus, I wanted to get it done.  Back in November, in time for a Shop Hop.  Didn't happen, obviously.  So now it needs a mate, as the display options for one placemat is limited.

it's reversible, thanks to careful fabric purchasing

Wouldn't you know, making more placemats is really not in my plans at the moment.  According to my New Year's resolution, I have to finish 2 things for every new start--and that's not the item I'm itching to start this month.

Oh well.  Orphan it will be for now.  But a FINISHED orphan, at least!

Fabric stash used: 1/4 yard (only counting the navy, as the backing and binding fabrics were purchased for this project)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Modest Goals for 2016

Gotta write 'em down, or I can't remember them they don't count, right?

After setting ambitious goals for 2015, which did not mesh with the reality of quitting my job, moving, and spending months in a sad mental state, I'm ready to set some crafty goals for 2016 that can be accomplished.

1.  Finish 3 large quilts.

The ones I have in mind are all quilts that have been started.  Two of them are almost done with the piecing.  Let's see some pom-poms come out for the finish line!

2.  Buy no fabric for the first 6 months of the year.

This is next-to-impossible for me lately.  The fabrics--and the ideas they generate--really set up a chorus in my head every time I step into the quilt shop where I work.  My one "out" for this resolution is if I need a fabric for a project I am actively working on, and that fabric is the only thing that will let me move forward.

3.  Finish two projects for each new start.
I have so many UFOs that lay in scary, shadowy forms: on the floor, in the corners, teetering on the shelves, ready to pounce.  I already have four at the top of my list to finish this month (so I can start the 2 new things that I just gotta cut into!)

4.  Complete at least 8 garments.
This goal will be a challenge.  The only "garments" sewn by me last year were 2 aprons.  To help my mojo in this direction, I have joined the uber-talented folks at Make a Garment a Month (currently on Facebook).

5.  Write a pattern.
C'mon, I am teaching a Block of the Month class at the quilt shop, how much more work can it be to write up a pattern for one of the amazing designs in my head?

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015 in Pictures

Let's just say that meeting my goals for 2015 was not in the cards... moving on.

One of my reasons for blogging is to stop and celebrate my successes.  Therefore, I present my finishes for 2015.  Regardless of what I wanted to accomplish, these are the things I DID.

Large Sewing

Technicolor star quilt; ocean waves wallhanging; fluffy rag quilt (as I see it, a wallhanging is not technically large, yet this one did involve much piecing, as well as my first foray into free-motion quilting)

Small Sewing

Large tote bag; Sew Together Bag--in 3 4 variations; mystery cube puzzle; holiday tree wallhanging; Minion apron; reversible table topper; java mug rug; halter apron;  fabric bowl/basket; and hemming: altar cloth, 5 sets of napkins* AND two Minky blankets*
(* = not pictured in collage)   


Pi cowl; neck ruff/cowl; and cowl (a second one!) for the youngest child; Morning walk headband/earwarmer

It was a busy year, in many regards.  Glad I could squeeze in some stitching creativity.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Stash Organization

2016!!  My sister gave me the idea to reorganize my fabric stash: by type, instead of by location.  Now, this did not entail any actual moving of fabric; I simply changed the way I catalog my collection.

sample fabric swatch entry: I have used some of this piece!

As detailed in 2012, I keep my stash in Xerox boxes, labeled with names like "green star".  The key to what's in each box resides in a 3-ring binder which contains swatches of each fabric, along with information (definitely size/yardage; maybe also fiber content, when & where purchased, or other).

"green star" everything from chiffon to canvas, wool & rayon...

Before: the book was grouped box by box.  Everything in the Green Star box was on the same couple pages in the book, regardless of the type or color of fabric within.  And since the boxes had been filled rather haphazardly, there was really no rhyme or reason to such a catalog, either.

Look! cream-based quilting cottons
 After:  the book is arranged by fabric type, and roughly by color.  Finally!  All my quilting cottons are on the same four pages--rather than scattered throughout the book.

 jersey knits in white/cream
I can more easily see what I've got this way.  I mean, in a way that makes sense to me.

For example, I have waaay more knits than I thought I did.  (Hmm, better get to some garment sewing in 2016.)  Within those delightful stretchy folds, there are 3 knits that are white or cream

Really, I had no idea.

So... off to a good start in 2016.  An organized stash is one that might just get sewed up.

How about you? Any fabrics in your stash you might have forgotten about?  Does having things organized help you do more sewing?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Finishing Details

Here are the bits and pieces that got completed during Christmas break (hand-stitching that I brought along with me to Oregon--yay, for once that strategy worked!)

All of them involved just the tiniest of finishing steps.  But, you know, those pesky details can just sit and sit (at least in my sewing world).

Clockwise, from top left:
Gah - can't I take a better picture?


"Morning Walk Headband Earwarmer" a free pattern available on Ravelry.  Begun in November 2014, I finished the knitting portion AND the crochet edging before the end of football season (January).

And there it sat.

Bought the cute moose button (seen in collage above) in July.  Wasn't until I went to a meeting of the Oakland Stitch and Bitch Group that I got the ends tucked in.

Just one button! Finished in December, and worn almost daily in the chilly Oregon weather.

Mystery Cube Puzzle

This feels like an ancient project--the prototype cube/block puzzle that I started in 2013 to see if the concept would work, before making one out of the Get a Clue with Nancy Drew fabric line.

I got far enough on this version to make adjustments and corrections so that the showcase version would approach perfection--but I didn't finish this one!

Lots and lots of hand stitching.  Tedious.

This cube was made out of fabric scraps--nothing larger than fat quarters. Fussy cutting made the 3 interior scenes super cute and kid-friendly!

Neck Ruff/cowl   
 Well, seems like I called this one "finished" back when I posted about it in March.  But I was too quick on the draw--didn't buy the buttons until July, and finally stitched them in place in December. Ah well, I do get ahead of myself sometimes...

Pi cowl worn with Pi t-shirt
Pi cowl

Lightning fast! Started in September, with yarn purchased in July.  Finished the knitting shortly after I posted my progress in November.  I knew I would need assistance to finish, as the Kitchener stitch was something I had never attempted.  The close-up in the collage at the top of this post shows my seamless join (can you tell which color was used for joining?)

YouTube--and my friend Tree--to the rescue!  I had the toughest time getting the steps down, even though they were very basic, and the video was clear.  Thought I was a visual learner, but I finally had to write down the steps, rather than just replaying the same 30 seconds of video.

This was another warm and helpful item to have with me in Oregon.  Win.

How do these items appear on my list of UFO's to finish?  (Sometimes I cheat and call things done before they are done done.)

Well, THREE of them are accounted for.  (The 4th one wasn't started in August, when I took stock.)

Proud of myself there.  I may not have gotten my UFO's down to single digits (a 2015 goal), but I finished the year in great style.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fluffy Finish

The ball-o-fluff rag quilt is done.  Got tested out a bit during football watching on Thanksgiving weekend.

Sweetie models the finished product
At 36x54" (91.5x137 cm), it was deemed the perfect size for the lounging lap: won't hide the remote or get in the way of a plate of nachos, but tucks under at the sides and feet in a very cozy manner.

And it stores neatly over the back of the chair also, due to its compact size.

Same layout as was shown during my previous blog post: 4x6 grid of 10" (25.4 cm) squares.  I used one layer of Minky for the back, one layer of flannel for a filler, and flannel for the face.  Sewed each block's sandwich together with a single X of stitching, and attached the blocks with 1/2" (1.3 cm) seams.  Rag cuts were approximately 1" (2.5 cm) apart--but not because I measured while I was cutting them, just turned out that way by eyeball.

Closer view of some of the flannels used.  The owls, plain gray, and origami print were purchased for this project.  The dinosaurs and turquoise plaid were leftover scraps.  And the HO-HO-HO and couch prints have long been in my stash--gotta come up with something clever for them one of these days...

The back: I found scraps of Minky/Cuddle at Goodwill, in colors that went with the gray/white/yellow floral.  Yay for color and design, but Boo! for not using up very much of the floral fluff.  I still have YARDS of that stuff.

Ooh--shout out to glen of QuiltSwissy for the fabulous advice on de-fluffing and making the quilt safe for general house use.  Many trips to the dryer, and frequent emptying of the lint trap, did the trick.  Thanks for the blogging love, leaving a comment that did the trick. 

It's a finished project, and for that I'm thankful.  It gets almost daily use in our drafty house, and that makes me a happy grrl.  And I get to show off (every sewist loves a show & tell, right?)

Linking up with Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday, being hosted this week at Quokka Quilts.  Go check out some other fab finishes!