Monday, January 30, 2023

At the Speed of a Turtle

 Hi Quilting Friends!  I've been busy as a bee all weekend with not much to show for all the hard work.  Chasing my tail most of the time would be the best way to describe the entire weekend.  But at least there was some progress. Friday was a total bust.  We had a little family dinner here at the house so my day was spent preparing food and killing some dust bunnies.  It was a much needed visit with the family.  Love and laughter always refuels my tank.  By Saturday morning I was ready to tackle every sewing goal set last week.  First on the list was the reading pillows.  They are finished but need pillow forms.

Maybe later in the week the jammies can come off long enough to run into town.  When you live in the sticks you have to make every trip count.  Right now the list of hair spray and pillow forms isn't enough to persuade me out of my jammies.  Anyway....These pillow were quick and easy to make.  The cutting was the hardest part. 

After the cutting it took maybe 45 minutes to complete the sewing, turn them right side out, press and fold.  The tutorial called for interfacing or batting to be quilted.  I chose neither but added a handle to the top.  This might have been a mistake but I didn't think about it until much later.  Lets hope the kids don't use the handle as an awesome tool for a pillow fight. If they do, at least they are having a good time thanks to grannie.  Pretty sure their momma won't be thanking me.

Next up was to mark my quilt before putting it on the quilting frame.  You can see it in the background of the picture below.

And here you can see it as it is this morning.  I did manage to piece together a backing from yardage.  Progress!  But still no quilting plan.  Well there was quilting lines, marks and tons of ideas I did not like.  

I tried may different rulers and ideas but they just didn't seem right.  You see this is how quilt tops become UFO's.  So last night and early this morning I once again took a little trip down the rabbit hole of quilting ideas on the internet.  A few ideas were saved to a Pinterest board so I wouldn't forget latest and greatest idea.  Crossing my fingers and asking you to do the same.  I need all the good quilting vibes I can get!

Once a good quilting plan is made, this stack of batting will be used to make a Franken Batting to use in this quilt.  Do you make Franken Batting?  

And the binding on this quilt was the last of the current projects.  A whopping 18 inches of progress!  Whoo-hoo!  It's better than none. 

Well it's off to the sewing room, gotta make up for lost time.

Until next time...

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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Friday, January 27, 2023

Four Lone Star Quilts Finished ~ UFO Quilt #4 2023

 I'm so excited to finally share this quilt with you.  It is one of four Lone Star quilts I made last year.  When I say last year I mean from Thanksgiving 2022 to December 24, 2022.  The quilt you see below is the first quilt top made.  Over the years I've made several Lone Stars and learned a lot of tricks but you know how it is, you can know all the tricks and things can still go bad.  That's exactly what happened with this one.  It was so bad I told my husband that I was going to throw it in the trash.  He begged me to quilt it up for him.  What you can't see now that it is finished is the star leans to the right. I've never had that happen.  The center has a slight hump/mountain or fullness.  With all its issues I somehow managed to make a perfectly square 90 x 90 quilt.  But oh boy she was a real booger to quilt without puckers.

All four of the quilts were exactly the same except for the red borders.  The bright red and dark red borders looked the best so I decided to make two of each.  

At this point your probably wondering why I made four quilts exactly the same.  It's easier to cut all the quilts at the same time if they are identical.   As you all know my 29 year old son died in an accident on October 2, 20222.  Quilting is my therapy through all of life's up and downs .  When we all came together on Thanksgiving it was hard not seeing my baby at the other end of the table with his wife.  She sat there alone with tearful eyes trying her best to hold them back.  We all would take moments away from the group to deal with our emotions, regroup ourselves and try to be happy.  It's hard to put into words how our family dynamic was impacted by his death.  

Well all I could do is do what I do best, quilt.  Over the years I've made a couple Lone Stars for people who have lost a family member.  One for my dad when my brother died and one for my oldest sons Mother in Law when her husband died.  My heart and soul goes into these quilts.  They are not easy to make due to all the bias edges.  I like to use colors that make a bold and beautiful statement.  I want this quilt to be able to hug the recipient when I can't be there to comfort them.  For this quilt the black represents our loss and the colorful star represents my son Trever.  He was a bright spot in all our lives.  He was a very giving person, annoyingly smart and would let you know the facts on any given subject. But he was also quick witted and loved to make us all laugh even when he was being annoyingly smart.

The four quilts went to my daughter and her husband, my oldest son and his wife, my son's widow and my husband.  I plan to make one more but I can't tell you who it's for until it is delivered. I'm not sure if they read my blog.   It too will be identical to these. 

This last Lone Star quilt will be considered a UFO quilt of 2023 because I started it in 2022 but finished it in 2023.  
Below is Mr. Podunk peaking out from behind his new, fresh out of the dryer, very loved quilt.  What you can't see is his big cheesy grin.  He deserves all the quilts he wants.  Without him none of what I do would be possible.  Thank you Mr. Podunk for supporting me and my craziness.

Until next time...

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Baby Truck Quilt

 Look what I found last night while searching through my photos.  How could I forget about making this little cutie?  This was a commissioned quilt for a friend of my dad who was expecting a new grandbaby.  I made it last spring.  Do you know how hard it is to make a quilt when you are given only the sex of the new baby.  His friend had no idea my dad had asked me to make this quilt for her grandbaby and he didn't want to let her know by asking a bunch of questions.

My idea for a baby quilt is of course happy bright colors.  However when doing my research for this quilt I found that nurseries/baby rooms are not so bright and happy these days.  The style has changed a great deal since my kids were little.  And my daughter is like me, she doesn't care to much about trends.  She was completely happy with anything I gave her with each of the four grandchildren.  So I took todays trend of boring and bland then added my touch of bright and happy.  

The grandmother and mother loved it or so they said.  No one is going to say they don't like a gift.  I was feeling a little unsure of the real love for my creation until about a month ago. Dad told me of a conversation he had with the grandmother.   She said she was babysitting her grandson for an afternoon when the he became very fussy and would not stop crying.  She became anxious and didn't know what else to do so she grabbed this quilt and and laid it on him as she held him...and like magic he stopped crying.  She said it was the weirdest and thing and works almost every time he's fussy.  My dad being a spiritual man believes in energy, both positive and negative.  He told his friend that quilting is my passion and it mends my soul.  All positive energy goes into my creations.   Does my energy pass through my creations?  We'll never really know but I like to think that it happens.  And I'm glad it gives the baby as well as grandma a little comfort and peace.

So why the trucks?  Simple...I like trucks and trucks are trendy right now.  From paper plates to fabric, you see old truck graphics EVERYWHERE.  It seems everyone loves them, so why not try to take the bland baby look and add a little trendy truck color.  I made it a bit larger than a baby quilt so he could use it longer.   I started with 5.5" squares so that would make this 55" wide but I can't remember the length.  The gray and white fabrics were purchased at Walmart and were prewashed.  The truck fabrics were pulled from my solids stash and prewashed.

I love the truck trend because as a child my dad had an orange truck with white wood rails.  He still has this old truck, it doesn't run and the rails are gone.  He's plan is to restore it with the help of my nephew who you see in this picture.  My nephew's passion is cars, he restores old cars and makes street racers for a living.

As most of you know I've made a few truck quilts in the past. The truck design for this quilt came about a few years ago when my mom was battling cancer.  I didn't have much time back then for quilting.  Being her caregiver and chauffer to all the appointments left little time for quilting let alone designing a quilt.  So the next best thing is to buy a pattern.  The cutest one at the time was a pattern called Vintage Christmas by Confessions of a Homeschooler,   Cute quilt but I would have preferred applique so....

That quilt inspired me to quickly design a simple truck applique  to put on a quick and easy chain quilt I was making.

And then I designed another after mom passed and I started selling patterns....

...and another small project...

...and the final one I designed and made. There are so many more designed but I haven't made.  Maybe next year after all(most) the UFO's have been tackled I can get back to making more truck quilts.  They are all super cute and with each one a little more applique has been worked into the design.  Only time will tell because....SQUIRELL!

Until next time...

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Working Through the UFO's ~ Amour de Cerise and More

 Hi-diddly-O Quilting Friends!  Today I'm going to share with you a newly discovered thing about me.  It's kind of sad it took nearly 54 years for me to figure out how I roll.  Better late than never, right?  Well, it seems I like a bit of chaos.  By jumping from one thing to another I get more accomplished.  I'm not sure if I've always been this way or if it's a getting older thing.  Doing the same thing all day bores my quilty brain and is hard on the achy aging joints.   A body in motion stays in motion.  So this leads me to making a little shift in my self imposed 2023 UFO Challenge.  Instead of working on one at a time I'll be working on several in various stages of completion.  And to put a twist on things I'll also be adding in new smaller projects.  As one is finished a new one will be added into the rotation.

 Amour de Cerise(Cherry Love) is the newest addition to the mix.  She'll be loaded onto the frame sometime today  since I just pulled a quilt off the frame last night.   Amour de Cerise was started January 2015.   The applique is raw edge and I think it adds a nice little WOW factor to the plain ole nine patch quilt.  It gives it sorta chained look.

Last night I played around with some quilting ideas but they aren't set in stone.  To keep it quick and easy the quilt will be done with mostly free motion work.  Maybe something new will pop into my mind as I work on the other things planned for this week.

The first thing on the list today, 100% machine bind the latest quilt off the frame. Black is so hard for me to see, so hand stitching the binding is out of the question.  I know your gasping at the black.  Black isn't in my normal color pallet but I'll explain more about that on the final reveal.  The other side is packed full of color to make up for the black.  Y'all get it, black or white backgrounds make the bright colors go POW!  

Also in the rotation will be sewing up some cute projects for the little grandkids for Valentines day presents.  I'll be making Book Pillows with matching Bucket Hats.  Here's the patterns I'll be using.
Reading Pillows and Bucket Hats.  The cute fabrics are from Hobby Lobby.  Two different unicorn prints for the girls and I'll use the same gradient print on both pillows.

And then for our youngest, Mason, he needs Dinosaur fabric.  He's in a dinosaur phase right now. Everything, even his cars must be dinosaur themed.  As soon as these gifts are completed and shipped I'll be adding a small quick new quilt to the mix and then start adding UFO's quilt blocks needing to be stitched into quilt tops.  Of course ,starting with the easiest to finish first.

How could I resist throwing in a picture of the little cuties.  Yes, I'm a proud grandma.

The last project in the mix right now is my Bumpkins Pumpkins quilt.  Hand stitching the binding to the back in the evenings or when I need a little break.  Well that's it for now.  I think this should keep me busy.

But this is a distraction....I might be outside later for a little snowman time!

Until next time...

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Shabby Love ~ UFO Quilt #3 2023

Do you remember when Wal-Mart had a huge fabric department and would have a quilt of the month?  This was way back in the late 90's early 2000.  The pattern would have a free pattern for the taking.  You didn't even need to purchase fabric to get the free pattern.  Every month I would get the pattern but would rarely the fabric due to money was tight when the kids were still at home.  

All but the background fabrics in this quilt are from Wal-Mart.  I never made the free quilt pattern but in 2014 I added some quilt shop quality background fabrics to the mix and made this quilt top.  

The softer colors really appeal the 90's girl with big hair that still lives inside me.  Remember the large floral print couches and huge crown moldings of the 90's?  My living room was painted Blush Ice with white crown molding.  Blush Ice was a fancy name for pale pink.  My husband called it the Neapolitan ice cream room because the carpet was dark brown.

Our bedroom carpet was mauve with mauve floral wallpaper.  This quilt would have matched perfectly in both rooms.  Today some would call this a Shabby Chic quilt due to the muted colors and simple pattern.  When making the quilt in 2014 I had no plan or reason for working in this color pallet.  You know how it is, sometimes you look at your fabrics and just start pulling fabrics because on that day that's what appeals to you.  

The quilting was kept fairly simple and I'm not happy with my choice of crosshatching, but I who wants to pick out stitches.  As they say "finished is better than perfect".

I'm still working on making labels using the lettering on my sewing machine.  It's a learning process.  Instead of Googling and watching videos about how to do this, I'm just playing it by ear and making mistakes.  That's the best way to learn, right?   My first attempt was common mistake, no starch and no fabric stabilizer.  I knew better....grrrr.  The second attempt wasn't much better.  The fabric was stabilized but not big enough.  Gee wiz, I'm a pro!

Again, it's not perfect but it's done.  I'm happy with how it looks.  Over time I'll get the hang of this new to me way of making labels.  It's a good challenge.  Maybe next time I'll try some of those fancy stitches too....Maybe.

Until next time....

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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Friday, January 20, 2023

The Death of an Embroidery Machine

After trying many different pens for making labels that supposedly will survive a washing machine I've learned they are all lies.  Even the archival quality fabric pens do not survive when I use Dawn dish soap to help with bleeding fabrics.  They do however last longer than sharpies and Microns.  But with each wash they fade a little more.  And that's without Dawn dish soap. The plan was to  pull out my embroidery machine to make quilt labels.  This machine was purchased in 2005 and has not been used in 8 or 9 years.  Image below is from 2011.

Before actually setting her up I needed to check for new updates on the Singer website.  And wouldn't you know it, they stopped updating my old Singer Futura CE250.  Window 8 is as high as they go.  I have Windows 10.  Sigh.  Now what?  I could spend $400 on a new cheap embroidery machine just for making quilt labels but that doesn't fit in with my tighter than tree bark mentality.  And Mr. Podunk gave me THE LOOK when discussing my situation with him.  So what other options do I have?

1. pay someone to embroider my that too is a waste of money
2.  buy premade labels...I don't like the look or price
3. Print my own on a printer...I can't, my printer is laser
4. Use the lettering feature on my sewing machine...doable so let's give it a go

Years ago when I went to the Brother Sewing Machine dealer they showed me 3 machines in my price range.  I chose the Brother Innovis NX-450Q Quilt Club machine because of the lettering, it was marketed as quilting sewing machine and the biggest plus was it was on sale for $300 off.  It would have been over my budget if it wasn't on sale.  My thought was it would save me time and space.  No need to set up the embroidery machine if I only wanted lettering.  Blah blah blah....I only used this feature a few times before changing to the hand written quilt labels.  I don't remember why. 

It's time to break out the manual for a refresher course.  Oh yes, I remember now.  There's no way to evenly space the words. There's no jump stitch feature like you have with an embroidery machine.  There was many reasons why, but lets press on.

A test piece is needed.  I wonder how long it will take to make a label.  Lets stitch this thing out and time it from the time I start punching in the codes until it makes the last stitch.  I didn't include the time it took me to draw 3 lines for lining up my presser foot in order to keep the lettering on a straight path.

And go....Hopefully I can get a little quicker at punching in the 2 digit code for each letter.   Over 11 minutes really isn't too bad.

Since there was no jump stitch I choose what I thought might work, #46 with the red arrow.  Bad idea.  It's a double stitched line that now needs to be removed.    Well then lets try the other line #30 with the green arrow,  it too is a stitched line but only a single stitched line.  It's easier to pick out one stitched line so for now this is the best I can do in place of a jump stitch.  The yellow arrow shows a jump stitch that the machine does when it ties off and goes to the next letter with no spacing.  It jumped from my "F" to the single stitched line.

 Time to pick and trim the jump stitches.  Just for giggles I timed this process.

The finished test piece.  I need to work on lining up the letting on the left hand side of the label.  Marking the lines with equal spacing would be a good idea as well.  It's better than ink pens and can be tweaked to make it look more professional.  With time I'm sure I'll remember the number codes for each letter which will speed up the process.  I also have the option to save each line and store it in my sewing machine for later use.  That too would speed up this process on future labels.  I would only need to add the quilt name, date, and quilt recipient if needed.  So guess this is the best plan for now. 

 Maybe Valentines day would be a good time to bring up a new embroidery machine to Mr. Podunk.

Until next time...

I hope you find time to stitch up something sweet!

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