This is going to take longer than I thought.

Let’s start off with something happy….  I got one of the wedding quilts quilted!  Yahoo!!  Next is to get it trimmed and then bound.  I’m pretty excited but then I remembered that I didn’t make the binding yet…  Ah well, it won’t take too long.   Here it is!

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I’m sure they will love it.  I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t put a lot of quilting into it.  I struggled with how to quilt it.  The thread I had in mind is called Karnak by Superior Threads.  It is a teal and brown variegated cotton thread.  It was perfect.  However, If I did a lot of dense quilting then it would start to affect the design and I didn’t have a teal to just do the background. Instead I took the easy way and did an open all over pattern that wouldn’t take over the blocks or the secondary circles that appear.  It might not be the best choice, but I’m okay with it.

I did get a start on the black and white squares and I thought that the best place to begin would be to fix the two that aren’t quite the right size.

Here we go getting things taken apart so they can go back together again.  This is the part that takes the longest.  Definitely not my favorite part.  I also didn’t go as far as taking apart each individual  smaller square.  Perhaps I should have, but I really wasn’t sure how good my cutting was or what methods I used to assemble the blocks.  So, I went the quick and dirty route to just get it to a similar size.  We aren’t going to want to examine these blocks too closely…..

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As you can see it’s still not even close to perfect.  However, it’s workable and that was really the goal.  (remember perfectionism isn’t my friend…)

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You my notice that there is a little sticker on my ruler. I’m not sure if I have ever mentioned this before, but I have little koi stickers that is on all of my stuff.  I did that on purpose.  The reason?  It makes it easier to find my supplies when I bring them to retreat or classes.  Inez has lady bugs.  Some of the others put their name on them.  I think another of us have stars.  If you can’t see it, here is a closer look.  They are just simple little stickers that I found and thought they were fun but they do make it easy to identify my things in a group sewing setting.

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Now there is just one more to tackle this week along with making binding and finding some brights to border out the blocks.  Perhaps I can even get as far as getting the blocks trimmed and ready for the bordering.  Here’s to hoping!

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Why perfectionism doesn’t suit me. 

It’s true, as much as I would like it to, perfectionism doesn’t suit me.  I’m far too human and I’m reminded of that when I pull out some of my older UFO’s.

First though, I finally got my troublesome block tamed. At least as much as I am going to be able to tame it.  Here it is, after I attempted to press it into submission.  I still love it, but man it was not cooperating.

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I really wasn’t sure what to do to make it lie flat…I had taken it apart once before and if you are familiar with paper piecing you know that you have limited attempts before the paper falls apart (or you have to use tape to reinforce the stitching lines).  I was hesitant to start tearing it apart again, but I figure this would be the last time that I would tear it apart and that one way or another it was going to work.  So, once again I took the pie pieces apart and pinned the heck out of them.  I almost wondered if I didn’t use enough pins….

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I managed to get the pieces all put together but to my chagrin it still didn’t lie flat.  So, again I tried to press it into submission and finally said forget it and put the outside pieces on, pressed it again and called it a day.  I think that once the paper comes out it may lie better, but for now the block is complete and I am ready to move on to the next one…

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I was actually feeling pretty good about getting this to the end stage that I thought I would choose another UFO to tackle.  I’m procrastinating a bit on the two wedding quilts I have yet to complete.  Although I do have one of the completed ones on the long arm ready to be quilted this week.  Yea!

As I looked through my UFO’s (after all I have a lot to choose from!) I came across this one which I thought would be easy.  I thought that I had more blocks to complete and that would be an easy thing to do.  Once I got it out I discovered that the blocks were all completed and I have to decide on a setting for them.  The fun thing about these blocks is that each block came with block border suggestions.  Apparently when I first put things together I was game for the first two to try the suggestions.

This was the first one.  It was a block of the month at a local quilt shop that was done in black and white fabrics. Of the two that I completed, this is the one that I like best.

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This is the second one.

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It’s a little busy and I don’t really care for it.  Then I took a look at the rest of the suggestions and I realized that none of them would be terribly easy.  The bad thing is that there are no measurements or instructions for the borders so they would each have to be drafted and I just wasn’t feeling up to the task.  Instead, I thought it might make more sense to choose one border treatment and use it on each of the blocks.  I went with the first one.  I looks simple, but if you look closer you can see that it also uses partial seams which I will have to go with to keep things uniform.  It won’t be too difficult to do.  I just need to get those fun little pinwheels taken off and get the blocks measured and trimmed.  I think there will be a couple that will need a little work…they look a bit on the wonky side.  Don’t worry, the pinwheels will surely find their way into a doll quilt or something.

Then I am entertaining the thought of putting a little black in between the blocks (after the border).  But I think I’m getting ahead of myself.  There are a lot of things to do first.  I can tell that as I get ready to square up these blocks that some of the points are going to disappear.

I briefly entertained the thought of taking apart better than half of the blocks and then I came to my senses.  Of course it isn’t perfect.  I started this quilt years ago – at least 10.  I’ve learned some things since then.  My technique has improved quite a bit since then.  To take it apart at this point seems somehow wrong.  Looking at it I am reminded that I am human and imperfect.  That’s not a bad thing.  It helps me to remember that everyone makes mistakes and it also helps to drive me forward and improve as I go.  My goal is not to be perfect.  That goal is far too lofty and stressful.  I am much more content to keep my sights lower by trying harder and learning new things.  That is much less stressful and far more manageable.

 

 

 

Happy Halloween!

Sorry for missing you all last week – I completely forgot to clue you in to the excitement about retreat!  We were all going to retreat!  Now we are all home.  <insert sad face here>  This time I was totally productive and really focused on getting things done.  However, before I get into that we had something truly exciting happen at retreat.

Hang on to your seats – Hattie bought fabric.  I even have the picture to prove it!  Normally when we go shopping Hattie takes her time wandering the store.  You might see her carrying a bolt or two.  Sometimes the bolts are from the sale fabrics.  Then you will see her later during check out and she has no bolts of fabric.  Her restraint has been a great mystery to us all.  However, she has a new grand baby and that baby needs a quilt.  Grandma Hattie to the rescue!

The first is Hattie with Blanche at the counter and you can clearly see that Hattie has cut fabric in her hands!  The second is Hattie alone.  I was trying to secretly take her picture, but as there were about 5 of us standing at the door with our phones out it was a little more difficult to be unobtrusive.

In case you were wondering, Yes, this was the shop that I had written about before.  The one that is closing and where I first learned how to piece quilt blocks.  We were lucky that she opened up for a couple of days while we were on retreat.

We did find a new (to us) quilt shop that I think we will plan on frequenting while on retreat in place of the one closing.  While it wasn’t a huge shop, the service there was quite amazing.  We felt very welcomed while we shopped there and it was a wonderful feeling.

As for me and my focus, well, I had a few things to get finished.  The first of which is one of the wedding quilts.  I’m sure you know the one.

Here it is as I was getting things assembled.  It took me far longer to assemble than I had thought it would. I started on Wednesday afternoon and didn’t finish until late on Thursday.  The small squares are 3″ and the snails trails are 6″ so I’m sure the fact that it is many small blocks is directly related to the length of time for assembly.

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Here it is, top completed complete with an “Around The World” stitch (basting around the edge to keep everything where it is supposed to be until I can get it quilted).  It turned out pretty amazing, I think.  I’m certainly glad to have it assembled, although now I need to removed the paper from the back.  I am not really looking forward to that, but at least it is something that I can do while watching tv.  Yea for completing projects!

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I did take a little time to do 3 pillow cases for the boys and repair a stuffed giraffe and repair a winter coat.  Then I had to get out the next project that I had  been procrastinating finishing.

Here it is – it is a Turning Twenty Pattern that I did as a quilt-as-you-go. I think the hardest part was getting the blocks in the right places.  This is not the finished version – it was just a picture I took as I was letting things gel and before all the switching around began.  It took me the better part of the day to get assembled and I still had to put the binding on it the next morning.  In case you are wondering, the white balls are golf ball fabric and the really busy multicolored fabric are golf tees.  This quilt is finished and is with its new owner and I am excited to have it completed and delivered.

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I’m sure you are wondering what I did next after all of the work I have done so far.  I am happy to report that I wasn’t done yet!

I’m sure you remember that I still have one wedding quilt to do that I haven’t even started yet.  (and now I have 2 to complete!!)  As I began these quilts, there was one that continued to stand out to me called Log Cabin Beads  (I have the pattern in a magazine).  I have finally settled on the colors but I was not so ecstatic about cutting 1 1/4″ strips for the background pieces.  I thought it might be a little easier to add 1/2″ to the background and color strips.  Of course this meant that I needed to do a practice block with notes and measurements for the new sizes I would need to cut.  It took me a  little while to get through it, but I did manage to get through 4 of them done and I think they look pretty good.  Here is what 4 of them look like together.

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I think this will work out just fine and now I need to do some more plotting on how many blocks I need to complete and how many of each color will be needed.  I’m sure that can wait until tomorrow.  Or the day after that…

And in case you thought I was finished after this, I wasn’t!  I still managed to complete two of those tied fleece blankets while we had big tables up and I could lay things out.  I told you I was terribly focused and productive. Could we say that I completed 4  ufos?  That would certainly make up for those months I couldn’t get into my sewing room.  Now that the summer heat and humidity are gone I should be able to get back on track.

Retreat was awesome, as it usually is.  We laughed and rehashed some old jokes, I mean everyone loves a happy ending…  It was nice to have the tribe back together again.  Well, most of us.  There was just one missing – Wanda and we did miss her.  Sandra Dee and Hazel learned to make a simple purse from 2 fat quarters and did really well with that.  Blanche and Mabel did a lot of paper piecing (they worked really had to get caught up on that super awesome stained glass star block of the month.  Say that 5 times fast!).  Hattie worked on that baby quilt. Inez put some things together for a craft show we have coming up.  Overall, it was a much-needed weekend together for us and sometimes I wish they were a little more often than every 6 months.

Continuing to make progress.

So I managed to get back into my sewing room to work on one of the wedding quilts (and have I mentioned that I have another one added to the queue?).  I don’t think I’ve shared much about the pattern or progress I’ve been making.  Retreat is coming up at the end of the month and my goal is to (finally) have all the blocks done so that I could start assembling the top.

This is the last set of units that I need to finish.  I don’t know how well you can see, because the background fabric is white, but I have the last two opposite corner triangles to sew on and then trim the unit to size.  I will say that it is very important to have good lighting in your sewing room and I came to find out that my lighting may not be as good as I thought it was.  I have a white on white print for the background and there have been a few that I have put on with the wrong side up because it was hard to tell which was which.

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This one is a little better where you can see the white print dots (which reminded me of bubbles).  I know, they do look like they should be easy to tell, but the lighting at my sewing desk turns out to not be quite the best.  Since all I have left are two opposite corners, I have gone ahead and gotten them all laid out and pinned ready to go under the needle.  One more round of sewing and trimming them and they will all be ready to go to retreat so they can be laid out and assembled into their finished quilt top!  Yahoo!

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Here’s what the little darlings looked like  before I trimmed them to add the last two corners.  I know, they totally look wrong don’t they?  That is what I love about paper piecing.  A little trim, another piece of fabric and before you know it the points are all as perfect as they can be.  I don’t know if you do paper piecing or not, but if you decide to try give yourself time to get use to it.  I promise that you will get it, just stick with it.

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And here they are all trimmed and pretty looking.  I think there are 54 of these units.  I saved the least amount and least complicated for last.

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I’m sure you are just a little curious as to what the other units look like.  I’ll share a little, but you will have to wait until retreat to see how they all go together!

There are two other units.  This is one of them, and there are 97 of them and it seemed like they took FOREVER just because there were so many.  I just kept plugging along little by little and managed to get through them.  I know they don’t look to hard but it was just the sheer number of them.

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These are the main blocks and they were a lot of fun to work on so of course they were the first ones I did.  I still love them and I can’t wait to get the blocks laid out.  Actually, I just can’t wait for retreat!

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Wish me luck tomorrow as I try to get the last of the triangles sewn on while the smallest person is at school.  I’m feeling pretty good about my chances and I love it when I make a goal.

This week there was some sadness….

I didn’t have much time to sew this past week.  I’m hoping for a better opportunity tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Now for the sadness.  The quilt shop where I started my quilting journey is closing.  Mabel passed the word and over the weekend Hazel, Mabel, Inez and I took a trip.  Blanche was along in spirit.  The big sale doesn’t start for another week.  We went early because we knew it would be picked over once the mark downs happened and we wanted to get in before things got picked over.

The store had offered punch cards that scored you $25 once you filled one and I had one full and two partials ready to go. Blanche had a full card and a couple of partials that she sent up so we could go shopping on her behalf (which we gladly did and I will save what we got her as a surprise!).

Before I share what I purchased for myself, I would like to wax nostalgic.  I first learned how to quilt around 15 years ago (maybe more, I’m not really sure).  I didn’t have any type of sewing machine experience.  I cross-stitched a hem on a dress while I was in college if that gives you any kind of indication on what my skill set was.  My husband had more sewing machine experience  than I did and gave me a crash course on how to thread and use the sewing machine.  Inez was in the class with me (really was the reason I was taking the class in the first place) and walked me through my first steps in quilting at this quilt shop.  I still have the blocks…they still haven’t been turned into a completed quilt.  I still like them…and they are in my pile of UFO’s to complete.

We took a few more classes there and made sure that we visited when we were out at retreat.  The shop changed hands to it current owner and our lives changed that we didn’t get out there for classes although we did try to make it out there for some shopping.  Of course it was never often enough.

I feel saddened that they will soon be closing their doors, like a piece of my quilting story is becoming faint.  While I hope to make it back while they are having their big sale, I’m glad we made a priority to go before the vultures swoop in.

Now, I’ll share what I picked up for myself.  Hazel picked up a few things and I think we are going to be embarking on a project together, but more on that later!  Mabel came with a list of fabrics she needed for upcoming projects and stayed true to her course.  Inez picked up some background fabrics and fun things.  I wandered around trying to take it all in and touching various bolts waiting for the spark that comes when you are feeling inspired or when bolts jump into your arms because they are so beautiful that you couldn’t possibly leave them in the store.  There were so many that I wanted to take home that it was hard to start shopping.  I think made at least 3 complete circuts of the store before actually picking up a bolt of fabric.

Here’s what I picked up for fun.  The blueish one I grabbed a yard of just because it was fun.  The yellow one…well…it was my splurge piece.  The longer I stood at the cutting table the more I wanted.  I was just going to get a yard but I ended up clearing the bolt.

As I stood looking at the Oriental fabrics, Inez came over and picked up a bolt and said, “this is pretty”.  I couldn’t disagree.  But then I noticed a nice teal that went really nicely with it.  Then there was the gold.  Oh, the bolt of gold.  Then we were wandering around looking for more to go with it.

You can see what we came up with here.  The first in line is that teal that was just so nice.  And the gold…oh, the gold.  Then the hunt was on for the right green and blue.  The hardest was the background, but finally we found something that would be just right.

Here is everything together.  Doesn’t it just look so rich?  I’ve been thinking about it all day and have been running through different block/pattern ideas and I’m starting to think that I just need to come up with my own design.  Not that I don’t have a million other projects to work on….Ahh well.  I don’t regret it at all.  I did have to clear the bolt on the peacock and the background, some things you just can’t find a substitute for.

Now for the new project Hazel and I are about to embark on.  I don’t know if you have seen the Lucy Boston cross blocks?  They utilize the English paper piecing method.  If you haven’t seen the blocks check this out!  Just google “Lucy Boston cross blocks”, there are some amazing fabric combinations.  I’m not sure whose these are, but the colors were intriguing.  During our shopping session, there were some supplies  as the shop was offering a class and I picked up a template and some paper forms.  However, I really need to get the book to make sure I have all the things I need (unfortunately they were sold out of the book).  I think there may be some other shapes we need.

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I’m sure you remember how well Sandra Dee and Hazel love paper piecing.  Hazel was less than thrilled when I mentioned English paper piecing, but I think I have her talked into giving this a shot with me.  After all, these are two completely different methods so it should go much better!  Stay tuned for mine and Hazel’s totally awesome blocks!

I know, You didn’t think I would come back….

Summer got a little crazy.  What really threw me off course was not having air conditioning in my sewing room.  With our heat and humidity that meant I couldn’t comfortably work in there.  I did talk with my lovely husband about getting a portable air conditioner which may happen for next summer.  Big thanks to Mabel for the suggestion!

So, that meant I got behind and I didn’t figure you would really want to read about the summer activities I was doing with the kids so….I took a little time out and waited for the weather to get cooler.

Now that both of the boys are in school (yep, the Smallest started preschool this year!!  Yea!!) I have two days a week that I can spend in my room for a couple of hours at least.  Yea!

While I was on a break, I did manage to get out my embroidery machine and made an attempt to embroider some shirts for the boys.  Let’s just say it didn’t go as well as I had envisioned.  I did manage to learn a lot and I now have some nice stabilizer….

While I was  putting away things in my sewing room, I got to thinking about my UFO’s and one of them jumped into mind so I dug it out and started to get down to business.

Maybe you remember me writing about this one.

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I was so excited to get to work on this project but there were some things that I didn’t take into consideration.  There is a lot of appliqué here and it builds on top of each other.  I was using a mid or light weight fusible so when I ironed levels on top of each other, the fusible stopped working.  So, I got frustrated and folded it up and put it away.  However, I still love the look of it and decided I was ready to do some machine appliqué.  Perhaps that is the influence of my dive into machine embroidery that made me think I’m ready to tackle this project again.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I will still have to do this project in chunks….and that I won’t be able to just sit down and work on it exclusively.

Here is where I am now.  I took off all the pieces that were just hanging on and I added some stabilizer to the background so that my machine stitching won’t turn it into a mess.  See?  I have learned something!  You can see here that I have my stabilizer basted on and this is before I take off those darker green pieces.  Really, they are mostly just lying there nicely waiting to be sewn down, but first I need to sew down those light green pieces.

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Here you can see that I got some stitching done on them.  I had a little trouble finding the right thread.  I thought I had the perfect color and I started with it, but it really was a bit too thick and I only did one piece with it.  After that I opted to switch for something a little lighter in color and thinner.  You can see it here.

Here you can see how awful the thicker thread looked on the back.

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The skinny stem is with the thinner thread and it doesn’t blurb on to the back like that thicker thread does.  I’m not sure if I will go back and redo the stitching.  I think I will see how the other pieces lay over it and go from there.  I think that’s the best I can do for right now.  If I have to rip it out, at least it’s only one piece.  Of course, it also means I need to go shopping so I can get the right colors of thread.  At least I’m back sewing again, and that makes all the difference.

Blah.

Well, my motivation has left the building.  Keeping up with activities for the boys has tuckered me out.  I’m not sure if it’s the planning or the execution that is worst.

I did manage to finish my one UFO from a couple of weeks ago.  So I count that as a total victory.  Here are a couple of pics.

 

The stepping is going well, but I did slack off a bit over the weekend and so I need to get back on track but that should be easy to do.

I know, there really just isn’t a whole lot to report.  I think with all of our current events there is just too much to process.  While I would like to comment, I still just can’t fathom what happened in Orlando.  What knocked me to my heels however was the recent alligator attack at Disney.  I think that’s because I look at my own Smallest and then my heart breaks.  I think about how I would feel to have him pulled from my grasp – how helpless and scared and angry I would feel.  Then I think that all the parents who lost their child at Pulse must also feel the same way because it doesn’t matter if your child is 2 or 22.  The heartache is just as real no matter the age.  I’m not going to get into a debate about gun control or terrorist status or if the parents disregarded a sign or if Disney should be liable.  Honestly, none of those things matter right now, at least to me, and if they did I could read all about them on Facebook as it seems everyone is asserting how their opinion is more correct than his fellows’.  I think we have all probably read enough of those comments and stories and we all have formed our own opinions.  Right now, my heart goes out to the families suffering these heartbreaking losses.  I think that is really all that needs to be said – My heart goes out.