Enter Catchy Title Here

I don’t know what it is, but I always have a hard time coming up with a title.  Especially something catchy.  I’m sure I’ll get better at it as we go along…

This week I have to confess I’ve not been sewing at all.  Nope, not one little bit.  Instead I have turned to another craft and I have a fairly tight deadline.  Of course, we always have a deadline don’t we?  Well The Smallest of All of Us had a birthday in January and we now getting ready for his birthday party and I have to get the invitations made so I can get them in the mail.  He just turned 3 so I think I’m okay for this year but no way can we be this late in years to come.  I do kinda feel for him with a birthday so close to New Year’s and we certainly didn’t mean for it to get to be this late, but they were redoing the floors at our normal location and so we opted to just wait.  I know, I know. That’s why I’m making these invitations.

Are you curious about them?   Well, this small boy child was going to have a Thomas the Train party but then his father introduced him to Star Wars and I think I have watched nothing else for the past 3 months. Plus, on his birthday we did take him to the theater for the first time to watch the new Star Wars movie and he was completely enchanted with being at the theater and was really well-behaved.  Want to see?  Here he is with his lemonade and M&Ms.

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So, the theme of the party has now changed from Thomas the Train to Star Wars.  To that end, I have dusted off my Cricut and started trying to figure out how to make Star Wars invitations.  Thank goodness we have Pinterest right?  Of course I found lots of great ideas.  So here is the mock-up with my mock-up letters although it is my final Yoda without facial features.

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I’m having a really hard time with trying to figure out how to do his face.  I’ll have to make a final decision soon as they need to get in the mail, but I also need to figure out how to make light sabers and the Smallest has also been asking for Skywalker.

At this point I have an army of Yodas (this is them without their final robe):IMG_1236

I also have an army of Darth Vaders.  I’m pretty tickled with how they turned out.  IMG_1241

I have figured out how to do Chewbacca and have the beginnings of Princess Leia, but that still leaves me Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.  They won’t all fit on the invitation, but I thought I could do some larger ones to put out at the party.  So far Smallest giggles when he sees them.

I don’t use my Cricut very often and there are still a lot of things that I’m sure I could be doing better.  Although that did not stop me from eyeballing the newer models when I was in Joann’s picking up more black card stock.  I’m not sure why…I don’t use the one I have enough to justify a new one….although being able to draw with them looks pretty cool.  Maybe that means I need to use my free time doing some more work with the one I have.  If I could only remember what free time actually is…..

 

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Finding the Groove

I have to admit that I do like this once a week gig.  It feels a lot less stressful than trying to get here every day.

The Monkeys should be gearing up soon as retreat is coming up in March.  I know that seems like a long ways away, but we both know it will be here any minute.  We just want to be prepared.

When I last left you, I was basking in the glow of an accomplished goal.  I seriously debated picking up another UFO and continuing this wonderful feel-good-feeling.  However, I then remembered that I have a Project In Progress (PIP).  The world is much more fun with acronyms isn’t it?

Anyway, I had the next UFO in my hands looking it over when I happened to glance up and see that project I am supposed to really be working on.  I didn’t want to put that UFO down, but I did.  Then I got myself organized for the PIP, which is one of the wedding quilts that I haven’t finished (and I recently learned that I will have another that needs doing as well!).  For the past week I have been diligently working on the paper piecing for this project. Yep, it’s paper piecing again.  This one is much simpler that that lovely star we’ve been doing.  There are 3 separate paper pieced units.  I completed all of the first part.  Currently I am working on the second part of which there are 97 units.  The third is only 54 units so I’m sure you can imagine that I am looking forward to getting through what feels like a daunting task of 97 units.  Currently I have 44 completed and another 20 in progress.  I’m sure it won’t take too much longer to finish them, but it certainly feels like it.  Ahh well, I did choose the pattern for a reason and I am looking forward to starting to assemble the units and see this quilt come together.  I would post pictures, but as it is a gift I will have to refrain until it gets sent off to its new owners.  You know, have to keep the element of surprise.

If nothing else, I do feel somewhat productive although my crafting space has become a bit on the disorganized side (and that’s putting it mildly).  I have gone through the house and managed to drag all my miscellaneous projects that I have managed to drop here and there throughout the house back up to my craft room.  However, that means it’s time to go through and get more stuff put away.  Plus there is that table that I’ve been thinking about and if I have any hope of putting it in my room I need to get some things organized.  Sounds like January is turning out to be a productive month!  I hope yours is too!

 

 

 

 

Ahhhhh Precuts.

I find that more and more I do not like precuts. Have you used them?

Currently, I am also challenging myself to complete 1 UFO a month. Don’t mistake that I mean that I will get this item quilted and bound (I have a few that will take longer than a month to do….mainly because they are appliqué). What I’m trying to do is get some projects one step closer to being finished and if I can get the top completed it can join the others in my to-be-quilted pile. I have way more than 12 UFO’s that are in need of completion and a journal full of ideas looking to be started.  I would like to get some of my UFO’s finished (or close to it and for the record I am counting my to-be-quilted pile as close to it) so I could perhaps pare down my storage needs in my sewing room.  Why?  Aside from the fact that I still enjoy most of these projects and that I have a ridiculous amount of UFO’s in need of finishing, I found a table that I think I must have.  It looks to be the perfect height for a designated cutting table and with a little work a top could be framed to go over it to make a large pressing table.  Where did I find such a table?  Harbor Freight.  Actually, I saw it online and need to pop in to the store to see if they have one so I can make doubly sure that it is what I’m looking for. I’m also hoping that as it is a workbench that I won’t need to add the vice on the end.  I don’t believe that I really need that…. I’m sure you are curious as to what it looks like and I’m always happy for show and tell.  You can see it here.

Back to precuts.  The first UFO I grabbed to work on is a block of the month from Joann Fabrics that is a series of precut block kits.  I originally started this at a retreat.  I opened the first kit and discovered that some of the pieces were off by 1/4″.  So, I put it back in the bag and went to the second block.  I managed to complete it and go to the third before I quit because of cutting errors.  This left me with some decisions to make and the first one was whether or not to replace the pieces that were short or do some fudging and make what I had work.  Of course I couldn’t find a color that seemed suitable in my stash so I opted to go with the fudging it method.    My goal for this month was to get the blocks completed.  There is a setting kit that goes along with the blocks, but as I purchased my blocks on clearance there was a chance I wouldn’t be able to get the setting kit.  So, once I get the blocks complete I’ll have to decide whether or not to try to replicate their setting or come up with my own.  If you are curious, you can see a picture of it here.

Again, back to precuts.  I was quite disappointed when I opened that first kit.  I didn’t anticipate that the first block would have issues.  I was continually disappointed through the rest of the kits.  Each block is framed in a border so I made sure that my blocks were 12 1/2″ square before adding the first sides of that border. More often than not they were not quite 12 1/2″ in length and more often than not the final two sides were not cut to 16 1/2″.  I spent more time easing or stretching than not.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that this is not “quilt shop” quality fabric and it may seem that I am expecting a bit much.  I just think it would be easier if they just packed a fat quarter of the appropriate fabrics and let us cut our own pieces.

Realistically, these are pieces that are being cut in mass quantities and there are bound to be mistakes.  The same errors (which can be due to fabric shifting, fabrics not laying straight, a piece being just short, mechanical error) can be seen in “quilt shop” quality jelly rolls and charm packs.  I’ve seen some jelly rolls where fabric was at an angle or wasn’t quite wide enough and the strips were not fully usable.  I get it, it does happen.

However, this is why I don’t like precuts.  I don’t want to get something home and be in the middle of the project and discover that my precuts aren’t going to work.  Or get my block kits home and find out that my blocks may or may not go together with the fabric provided.  It seems (to me) that there is a greater potential for error – it may not be an error that is large but the precuts may not measure true to size indicated.

This isn’t to say that I don’t make mistakes in my cutting.  However, if I’m paying a little extra for the fabric to be pre-cut, I kind of expect it to be accurate.  Maybe that makes me sound unreasonable.    I guess I should really just classify it a mild annoyance and stay away from the precuts.  However, I do have one more of these precut block of the month kits after this one (actually I have a couple more that are lounging in my UFO’s waiting to be completed).  I get the ease of being able to just start sewing is something that draws us in.  That’s what drew me to the precut kits in the first place.  As it stands, I am one block away from completing the 12 blocks.  When I get some time I will do a little research to see if I can come up with the setting kit or the instructions for it, but my goal for this UFO will be complete.  I really am just trying to nudge some of them closer to being complete. I have a couple of them that just need borders so I am looking for ward to getting those complete.  Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll be able to complete more than 1 UFO goal a month.  I certainly have lots to choose from.    As for the rest, I really am leery about purchasing precuts.  They certainly are convenient, but they really just are not for me.

See you next Monday!

And we find ourselves here once again….

Ahh, the ringing in of a New Year.  We always find new beginnings so full of promise, don’t we? Last year I likened our new years resolutions to staging our own personal revolution.  I still like thinking of it that way, staging revolutions against our bad habits.  I wasn’t so resolute on my revolutions last year and like so many others I’m hoping to be more resolute this year.

Last year I also tried a new habits challenge by updating the blog daily for 21 days.  I certainly had a lot of fun doing it, but realistically I was not able to keep up such a pace.  So, we shall try once again, only this time rather than daily we will see if I can manage it on a weekly basis.  I’m feeling fairly optimistic and I hope you are too.

Why am I feeling so optimistic?  Easy, New Beginnings feel so full of promise.  Why is that?  Is it because all we can see is the potential?  After all a New Beginning is nothing but potential.  Potential for ourselves, potential for those around us, and potential for the projects we start.

I do have a good start on a new project AND managed to spend some time on a project that I’ve not been able to work on very much.  I am very excited about both.

Let me share a bit about the new project.  If you would like to play along, you can find it here.  It is a paper-pieced block of the month.  It is very pretty and challenging and I am looking forward to next month’s block.  Be sure to check out her website.  Anyway, I learned about it from my sister-in-law on Facebook.  As we began to make plans, Blanche and Wanda took notice.  Next came Hattie and Mabel and Inez.  Now we have a lovely little Facebook group to cheer each other on as we work through these stained glass star blocks.  Back to the reason for my optimism.  I finished my block.  That’s right.  It’s January 4th and I finished the block already.  Yea me!  Did you want to see it?    Of course I’ll share.

January

So, as you can probably guess I am riding my newfound optimism as far as I possibly can. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the Monkey’s blocks look and what color combinations they choose. Honestly, I didn’t even realize that I was gaining some momentum until I stepped back from this block.  It was at that point that I realized that I was making some progress in a few areas.  Now it is time to feed this momentum and see just what I’m capable of.

I did use my momentum to pull out another project and do a few seams.  After all a few seams here and there really add up quickly.  I’m trying to make it so that I do a few every night.  Except for Mondays.  Mondays I should be here.  See you next week!