Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Simple Tip

When I have all my blocks laid out in the right place and am beginning to sew my blocks together, I put ONE pin in Row 1 at upper left corner, and point it RIGHT, indicating I will press the seams to the Right. Row Two had TWO pins in the upper left of the first block, and they point to the LEFT, indicating I will press the seams to the Left. When I pick them up and take them to the sewing machine, I stack them up, leaving the first block on the left at the top of the stack. I sew the blocks together one at a time - no chain piecing here, since each block must stay in the exact place.

This is how I ALWAYS do it, and so far, not too many errors. Sometimes I can only sew for short periods of time, and it helps to keep me straight.

There are now gizmos, tape, labels, etc. to write on, but I am trying to KISS, mostly because I frequently can't find my gizmos, and my pins are always at hand.

You probably all have your own methods, but until I learned this simple method, it was easy to get confused.

Gettin' Reedikalus!

From all of your comments, you are all having the same issue as I! "They are all great layouts," etc., and everyone seems to like almost ALL of the settings. So, you see why I'm getting a little frazzled? Too many images, options, eye candy, values, choices, what ifs, how abouts. Now, I've beat this subject to death - I'm starting to sew TODAY!

Super Bowl Sunday Sale is this Saturday and Sunday at our LQS - the shop waaaaay out in the country. Cars/shoppers are from far and near -- fun to see the license plates from out of state. The only thing I really need is some Microtex Neecles for an upcoming quilt class. (Wonder what I'll come home with?) I'm hoping for dry, freezing temps, because the route includes serious gravelly, country roads, that sometimes are impassable when above freezing. Hey, we're partly in the wild West!

My fabric diet for January has cost me $156.00. That's no more successful than when I'm on a food diet.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I don't like you anymore!

OK, I lied on a previous post, claiming the photo would be the last one on this Sizzling Strips quilt. Do you remember as a little girl of 6 or 7, and getting mad at your little playmate, hollering "I don't like you anymore!", and stomping away, with your nose in the air? So, before I get to that stage of stamping my foot and walking away, I'd better finish this project, since a LOT of you have seen it and I'd be too embarrassed to turn it into a UFO.

Here is definitely my latest and greatest and LASTEST version! Some of the blocks need a different/darker color instead of the red, but this is the idea. I'll have to do some unsewing or else make a bunch more blocks, replacing the red with a darker plum or similar. I like the shaft of light and wish it was original, but it's not, and so I'm whining and crabbing at my own lack of originality, and weariness after changing my mind so many times. I'm going to add an inner border, and another border, yet to be determined.
If you tackle this quilt design, be prepared for the multitude of options when it comes to layout.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Other side of the Studio, 2008

My DH and I share a very small studio/room (about 10 x 12). If I roll my chair away from my sewing machine at the same time he rolls his chair away from HIS work area, we will bump into each other. He gets threads in HIS boats, I get sawdust in my quilts. That's the way it is - we got over it.

Remember, we live in Nebraska - there is no serious water here. He's always liked boats, BIG boats, BIG working boats, and since we don't have a gazillion dollars to actually OWN a big working tugboat, this is what he does instead.

Our downstairs has become 'down below.' When he builds them, he absolutely knows how each section of a boat should be built according to his specs. Some of these boats start as a kit. Kits are usually made in a non-USA country and are NOT complete in any way - many modifications must be invented. Some are scratch built (yes, plank by plank), and some are based on REAL plans that are purchased from a REAL boat designer (pricey, to say the least!). All are wood. If based on a REAL boat, all parts have to be scaled down to approximately 24-30 inches. During the process, he is IN this boat, in his imagination and dreams. Most of them have hatches that can be removed (carefully) to look down inside the galley, head, storage, engine room, where all the parts are indeed there also. (yes, he's building the engines, that no one will ever see except him!) My very favorite part of any of these boats, is in the head, where he actually has a teeny roll of toilet paper!

At last count, there were 24 in the house. Some have been published in boating magazines.

We're running out of room for many more uhhhh - let's see, quilts or boats?

Last Version - gotta decide on somethin'!

This is the LAST arrangement that I am going to post, until I have it finished in some fashion. This particular layout CAN be quite dramatic, it's not working so well with my blocks, and my goal is make the quilt dramatic and the design should be clear, (in this case). I'm going back to some kind of zig-zag layout, as posted previously. This is/was a learning experience -- I learned there is NO END to possibilities with this design. I have become impatient and want to clear it off the floor and sewn together.

Now, it's noon already, and I have not done ONE thing on my To Do LIST! Arghhh - time is fleeting.

I'm going to write a separate post about what happens on the OTHER side of my little studio.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Havin' Fun, Goin' Bonkers

hmmm - if there are a million possible arrangements, I could just sit back and post a new photo every few days and not say anything more. (Could that be possible for a blogger?)

This (below) isn't doing anything for me - not even if I turn my head sideways.

Sooooo many ideas, plans, directions, etc. Nellie of Nellie's Needles suggested I kinda throw them down and see what happens. Duh - what took me so long to take that good advice? I am the Queen of 'let's see what happens'! After all, if a person wants something artistic and original, she shouldn't follow a plan.

So far, I'm just arranging them according to color - not doing anything with the blocks that are lighter or darker on the outside - I'll save that for later. Things are beginning to come together! And I think I would like it to be larger. So far I have over 48 blocks.

On this last arrangement (below), I've used a few blocks that are all one color, although still divided diagonally. This is in no way DONE, I still have more ideas. Today I DID purchase some 'punch' fabric (yes, even these bright colors needed something a bit different to 'punch' it up a bit. Damage? $4.01. Not bad.

DH was willing to arrange/rearrange them, but he's finding it very distracting - he likes things planned and symmetrical - NOT what I want but I DID appreciate his arrangements.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More consideration

OK, this planned design (below) is not doing anything exciting.

But THIS one (below) has possibilities.

The whole point of "Strips that Sizzle" is to open up the world of possibilities with these blocks that are mostly 'lights' or mostly 'darks', which is determined by the outermmost 2 strips. Sometimes a 'light' is used as a 'dark' and visa versa. In this Log Cabin arrangement, I threw all rules out (impatience, and copping out, to be honest), and made it a LOG CABIN, with no thought to the lightness or darkness of the blocks. I just used blue diagonals and pink diagonals. It still needs arrangement to even out the values, but, it's a possibility. Naturally, more blocks are needed.

The sewing of strata strips is a snap; arranging them light to dark is a no-brainer, cutting is simple, but arranging is one big mentally confusing pain in the patootie! My pea brain must look like radioactivity, with the protons (?) whizzing about, and then exploding and going in more directions, then THOSE pieces going in MORE directions - if I can ever settle on one arrangement, I could call this project, "Radioactive."

I hate to stop with this simple arrangement, but this keeper design is so traditional. I really will try more arrangements, but the process could go on endlessly.

Tanya in Japan, had a quilt that she called the "When-oh-When" quilt. I understand.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sizzling Strips - Reserving Judgment, #1

This project is from Margaret Miller's "Strips that Sizzle." I am reserving judgment on this arrangement. However, I can see more depth (my goal) looking at this photo rather than looking at the arrangement in person.

Also, it has a different look if you turn your head sideways. Actually sideways was the correct arrangement because I was copying the layout of Wanda of Exhuberant Color, with permission. That dark strip on the outside has an interesting effect on some of the blocks.

For those who don't recognize what these block are, each one is made up of two triangles. Each triangle is made from a strata in either blue/turqoise/lavendar and pink/rose. These two colorways range from light to dark in value (I think this is my problem), and each block is called light or dark, depending on the amount of value in the outer strips. There is a careful plan to this ayout.

There are a myriad of possibilities for the layout. Taking a photo is a wonderful idea to remember earlier plans.

Patience and determination are requirements in the designing process, to carry on with a project when first efforts aren't quite what you expected. It would be easy to just pick it up and put it away as a PIG (Project In Grocerysack), but now I am going to figure out what's right/wrong.

The light blocks, especially in the upper right, are too light, but I included them just 'to see'.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Assume the Position

Oh my, NOT a pretty picture! If you quilt your own projects then you know about this position for sandwiching your quilt. I use a bit of spray baste, then pin. First, move the furniture, then think ahead to make sure all my equipment is down there on the floor with me. Heaven help me if the job requires getting up and down more than once. I'm getting too crotchety to be doing this. I can hear my knees cracking, groaning, and when it's all over, persuading my body parts to get back into their working order takes some encouragement.

I DO have a great table but it's not large enough for a large quilt. I've considered something large in the garage that drops down from the ceiling, but hey, it's ZERO out there right now. Hand or machine quilting - not decided yet.

On the plus side, how many calories do you think this uses?

I HAVE learned NOT to attempt this job after having a full meal.

Quilt Guild tomorrow - yeah! Then back to my Strips that Sizzle project.

Message to Myself

I am following my own good advice once previously quoted from quilter Margaret Miller (although somewhere I can hear my Mother saying the same thing). And, as it just so happens, I am currently working on one of her (Margaret Miller's) ideas. This is about moving, staying motivated, maintaining mental energy, enthusiasm. OK, so there are days when our get-up-and-go, has gone-up-and-went, and it's a mystery how to how to pull up our get-along.

Margaret said: "Don't wait for inspiration to start something ... start something and you will get inspired."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thank You, and Better than Cheesecake!

First, Thank You, to Morah/Marla of Fat Quarters for ... oh, she knows for what!

Next, Thank You to Wanda of Exhuberant Color for an added boost to get me started on this kind of a quilt. I've been drooling over Margaret Miller's strip designs for many years, had her book for 8, and one day I noticed Wanda's name on one of the most gorgeous quilts in her book - the quilt I'd been slobbering over for YEARS! Who woulda guessed that the maker of that quilt, Wanda, was right here on my Bloglines?

Putting these colors/values together IS better than cheesecake! And Wanda was right - the hardest part is digging through the pile of strips, all wormed together!

Let's all be kind to each other, speak gently and generously, and keep each other strong. You never know when your words will carry someone through a hard day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My version of Star Struck

I've finished another "Bonnie" project - at least this top is finished. The stars are on point, and the quilt top is 72 x 82 inches. I was pleasantly surprised to find this quilt went together very accurately, despite my occasional ... uhhhmmmm ... casual sewing. Try it - you'll like it!

NO shirts were hurt during the making of this quilt top. I HAD shirtings (thanks Keepsake Catalog) and also a lot of blues from my stash. (My REAL shirts are under one of the beds, somewhere here.)

Total purchases for this quilt top was one quarter yard that I ended up not using.

The border? LOVE those teensy triangles -- bonus pieces (1 inch finished) from all the quick corners in the quilt. (I also have a bunch of finished RED teensy one-inch triangles, put away for another time.) They 'neaten' up the project, don't they?

I may hand quilt this one, but it's finished to this point. Thanks Bonnie!

Now, on another subject, I have decided, in 2008, to track all my quilting costs - a daunting process to actually face the truth, but I've started an Excel spreadsheet, and every single penny spent on any aspect of sewing/quilting/fabric goes on that spreadsheet. This idea came from Judy Laquidara. I also decided to add each amount of fabric IN, vs. each amount of fabric OUT (or done). If any of you can suggest how much fabric is "in" a certain size quilt top, please feel free to comment. I'm guessing Baby Quilt Top = about 2 yards. Lap Quilt = about 5 yards. After that, no guess at all! OK, backings are pretty easy. Believe it or not, I HAVE definitely seen a slight reduction in my stash - at least most of the fabric drawers actually close, but I've also moved a lot to under-the-bed storage boxes, so maybe I'm fooling myself.

Three nice little quilts went to Project Linus, so they are OUT THE DOOR! YEAH for me, and YEAH for nice gifts to children.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ya wanna drink?

I don't have a finished quilt-y project so I will tell you a story - it might help someone else have better days.

This is about drinking – yeppers, drinking water.

Years ago, as a relatively young woman in my 40s, I suffered a number of Emergency Room visits with unexplained severe abdominal cramping, pains. Hours later, each time, I was released, with no explanation, no solution. It would eventually “go away”. In those days, we didn’t endure a gazillion medical tests.

I am the type of person who will forget everything else, when I get my ‘teeth’ into a project. If you’ve read my blog recently, I spoke about riding my bicycle in the mountains. I am enthusiastic, but NOT very physically fit.

My bike was a gorgeous mountain bike, 27 gears, good for all terrains, but not a light weight. I had gathered courage to join a 20-mile bike trek, and we were going to meet at one location, and head off, through hill and dale, in June. I was an ignorant newbie.

As soon as I unloaded my bike, I knew I was in trouble. The girls did NOT wear makeup - I think they were girls – all the participants had buns of steel and legs like trees. No cellulite except when I looked down at my own generous limbs. Everyone’s helmets were swoopy shaped things, designed like jet airplanes - mine was purchased at a garage sale. And their bikes? English racers, that probably weighed 4 pounds. I carried cookies in my fanny pack - they carried air pumps and water bottles and spare tires, Gatorade, compasses, their bikes had speedometers, rear-view mirrors, oh yes, and everyone wore Spandex! ( humpffff -- I WAS wearing my Spandex!) Oh well, I’m foolish and brave, and off we all went.

There WAS a safety pickup truck following us, with a uhhh .... generous-sized woman driving - definitely NOT qualified as physically fit! She didn’t have many teeth, and her hair hadn't been washed in a month I think -- and frankly I was too snooty to consider she would be my new best friend!

I pedaled my best but after 13 miles, in last place most of the time, I had to admit defeat, and she kindly picked me up – her first and only passenger. We chit-chatted about one thing and another, and I told her my malady of the unexplained abdominal cramping. Her immediate response, “Well darlin’ (this was in Tennessee) y’all need to drink more water!”

I had spent hundreds of dollars at a good-sized medical facility and the physicians had NOT solved my problem, but here this unexpected connection proved to have the solution to my unexplained medical issues. Since then, I’ve gotten ‘in trouble’ occasionally, only to find the problem dissipate when I drank more water. I frequently forget to drink, so now keep a daily log of water consumption, and have discovered an even more amazing thing. The days when I wake up listless, tired, weary, etc., are the days when I have not had enough water. And the days when I am at my best, most energetic, happiest, best frame of mind, most alert, are the days when I have drunk a LOT (64 oz.) of water.

We all hear we should drink more, but many of us tend not to pay attention, and our physicians don’t necessarily point this out to us. Maybe my story might help someone else.

From Mother Elaine Adair

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Beginnings for 2008

I've oogled and slobbered over this book by Margaret Miller for about 8 years, and one day I noticed that a fellow blogger, was the maker of one of the featured quilts. Wanda of Exhuberant Color (hope I get this link thing to work right) kindly offered to lend her expertise to help me try something new. I DO like string quilts, and have made various versions of these Sizzling Strip blocks, although not using her technique at the time. Almost ALL of these fabrics were in my stash. Yesterday, per Wanda's suggestion, I filled in some blanks with 5 more pieces, to give me an array in two colorways.

Now to gather the courage to actually START it! LOL - and I must add, I DO have an almost-finshed quilt top on the living room floor, nearing completion, so first things first.

Next subject ... does anyone out there use the Jodi Barrow's Square-in-a-Square method? I have to hand it to that gal, she has her own method of putting blocks together, and I like some of them for accuracy.

This little quilt on the bear on the left was done with her method and the corners are exact and precise without tedious matching. This is an excellent method for a quilt with small pieces, especially if you don't like paper piecing. I've watched her videos for years, and it takes a while for a 'regular' quilter to understand the approach, but I'm sold on some of her methods.

I would be interested in hearing about your experience with her methods.