Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blowin' in the wind

Hello, and happy last day of September! Am I wrong, or has the weather been crazy the last few weeks? We had a beautiful summer weekend, except that it's September, and we just had a 15 degree temperature drop in the space of an hour. When I got home, it was 78 degrees and blowing like crazy outside. An hour later it was 63 degrees and still blowing. Gave me a big headache. I'm sure there's rain not too far behind it, too.

Lots going on here. Still working on those same two quilts. Yeah. . .I don't know why I decided to make two of them with so many pieces each at the same time. But there is progress, and that's keeping me going. Let's see if I can get one done by Friday. Could be a challenge, but I'll try.

In addition to those quilts, there is this:

Yes, that is the fields and furrows quilt being basted in my kitchen. I refuse to crawl around on the floor, so I basted it in sections on the table. The backing is taped under the table and clamped to the table as well with these babies:

Very handy! I also basted the Dancing Nines quilt and both of these are now ready to go! Not sure exactly when I'll get to them because my sewing table looks like a thread bomb went off, but I'll have them done sometime in the next couple weeks. (For those who are interested, Wanda Hanson has a nice thread basting post on her beautiful blog HERE. I do pretty much the same thing she does.)

After the success of the polar bear paper piecing, I pulled out two more projects that I've had for a while that also use large pieces. First there is this one:

I figure this would be good for the rest of those orange and/or yellow scraps I have. There is also this one, which is slightly larger:

Both of these are from Quiltmaker magazine. I was all set to start cutting pieces of fabric and making kind of a "kit" of fabrics and traced patterns so I would be ready to go. Then I discovered that I had not a single thread of gray fabric anywhere in my stash, either solid or prints. Not a thread! How can I make a squirrel and a raccoon without gray? So I guess I have to go shopping. Oh, the hardship! But at least I have most of the patterns for these projects traced and ready to go as soon as I procure some gray fabric. (Yes, I know the squirrel in the picture is brown, but the squirrels that live in our backyard are gray, so I want gray.)

The last thing I got done this weekend also involved getting ready for another project. This one is a hand applique project that I think will take a long time. I've been wanting to try back basting applique, so I spent some time this weekend prepping the pieces. Look how big they are: 

They're huge! That can only be good for me, though. Easier than the tiny ones. I'm using these fabrics:

I bought these at a rummage sale for $10 this past spring. Never used them before, but I figure I can't really go wrong. I also got some greens from Vicki Welsh's shop to use for leaves and stems. With all the dark cold nights that are coming, I think this will be a good project for the evenings this winter.

Anyway, that's what's up here! Really going to try to finish up one of those quilts this week. They are both thisclose, so keep your fingers crossed!

Happy sewing all! I'll be back Friday, which will be in October. Can you believe it? I can't!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let's Bee Social. Stop by and say hi!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Small diversions

Hi folks! How has your sewing week been?  I had a great birthday, complete with chocolate cake. How much more can a person ask for? Plus, the weather has been more like June than September, which is great for now but I'm sure there will be a big crash later.

I am still working on the same two quilts. Ocean Waves is about half finished and a little bit stalled because of the 9 inch squares of white I need for the remaining triangles. I guess I'm going to have to suck it up and cut some yardage for those. Burgoyne is zipping right along. The new ironing station really helps. Just have to finish the 4-patches (nasty little things) before I can finish all the blocks. Both of these make boring blog pictures (and some boring sewing, let me tell you), so how about some small diversionary sewing?

First up is the second orange Odd Fellow block:

If you look carefully, you can see the leaves changing!

He's a cutie, even if it was hard to find a "sober" piece of orange. I was worried about the lines in this fabric, but it turned out to be no problem at all. And now we're done with orange! Wonder what the next color will be?

Then there is this little guy:

This is called "You Got Cookies?" and was in the November/December 2012 issue of Quiltmaker. Very fast paper piecing. The best part is that I did find a small piece of white flannel for the hat band and a little bit of green bias tape for a tiny flange at the edge of the hat. I did have one problem with this pattern. Sections 5 and 6 both had to be extended by about half an inch in order to fit correctly. I've never experienced that with a paper pieced pattern before, but I could have made a mistake, so if you make it, measure all the parts first. I think he's darling, even if he was a little trouble.

Last is this little baby:

It's a jungle out there!

This was a very popular item made from this tutorial by Erin at Dog Under My Desk. She calls it an earbud pouch, but I plan to use it for my pedometer because for some reason manufacturers don't think women need pockets in their exercise clothes. They are wrong, and I don't want to make more pockets. This should work well.

That's what I did this week! Hope you got a bunch of sewing done, and that none of it was as boring as making 4-patches.

Linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, crazy mom quilts, and SoScrappy. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pressing matters

Hello everyone, and happy first day of fall! I'm feeling a lot better, although we've now reached the point in the year when I'm hoping the first freeze comes soon. Fall allergies are the worst allergies for me, so the sooner that all those nasty plants die and stop spreading their spores around, the happier I will be. Sometimes I get really bloodthirsty towards them and wish I had a flamethrower or something. Then I remember that a large part of California is in flames and I stop thinking that way. But I still want them all to die.

I've got a lot of things going on here, sewing-wise. I'm still making sections of the Ocean Waves quilt. There are a LOT of pieces.

Even though I had all the small parts made already, it's a little tedious putting them together, what with how they have to be oriented all "correctly" and everything. I might have to actually cut into some white yardage to get big enough pieces for the triangles because I'm running out of scrap pieces that are big enough. We'll see.

I'm also still making parts for the Burgoyne quilt.

This quilt may pass Ocean Waves as the next to be finished. It's just so darned happy and fun to work on.

One thing that is not fun is the constant stand-up, sit-down exercise involved in pressing all of those units. The 9-patches (and the 4-patches) are made of individual squares, so no strip piecing. I had a lot of these already cut, because 1 1/2 inch squares are the smallest pieces I save, so I already had a bunch. They're getting used up here, so a LOT of pressing.  I needed a satellite pressing station that I could keep by my sewing machine. My legs could use the exercise, of course, but it keeps breaking my sewing rhythm. So I made a pressing station.

I started with a wooden TV tray that came from my mother-in-law's house, so it's been around for a while and is quite solid. On top of the table I layered a piece of 1/4 inch foam, which I had left over from padding a bench, then a layer of Insul-Brite, an insulating fabric that I use in potholders and such.

Then I added another layer of thin polyester batting on top of the Insul-Brite.

I thought polyester would be better, but I see that my actual  ironing board has cotton. Huh. Well, at least I didn't waste batting that could go into a quilt on this.

What to put on the top? I didn't want to use any quilting fabric on the cover here, so I rummaged around and found this generous half yard of upholstery-weight cotton.

Not sure why I had this fabric, but it made a great cover! After a struggle with stretching and fastening everything, here is the finished ironing station!

The silly thing is perfect! It fits right next to me and doesn't take up room on the sewing table. Very helpful!

I mentioned struggling with stretching and fastening the layers. I saw a tutorial online that showed how to sew a cover for a tray table, but I wasn't going to do that. I'd rather sew quilts! I decided just to use my handy electric stapler and staple everything to the underside. Well. . .

Yeah, the stapler and the table didn't really get along. Not sure why. I ended up pulling out those staples and then using upholstery tacks and a hammer to fasten everything down. It took longer, but the hammering part was fun. Be sure to put an old towel or something on the table or bench (or the floor) under the piece to help hold it still.

For the rest of the week, my plan is to make good use of this pressing station and get closer to finishing one of those quilts. I'm close to ready to be done with fiddly little pieces, no matter how great they look. I also basted some things and am ready to quilt them up. Plus, today is my birthday and I see chocolate cake and a dinner out in the very near future. Wins all around!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, WIP Wednesday, and Let's Bee Social.  Happy sewing everyone!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Small projects

Hi all! I am feeling somewhat better today, although there was a lot of downtime this week. I even stayed home all day Wednesday and accomplished almost nothing all day. My pedometer says I had only 1855 steps for that day, when I usually have close to 10,000. I guess that's what happens when you take medicine and curl up on the couch reading quilting blogs instead of actually doing something.

I did manage to sew up two small projects this week, mainly so I could feel like I hadn't wasted all that time. The first involves the tote bag I showed you last time:

The hubs has a bad back and the seats they put in cars aren't really comfortable for him any more, even though they're advertised as having lumbar support. So we have driving pillows specifically sized and stuffed to fit behind him in the car so we can drive long distances in comfort. One of these met a tragic end a little while ago, involving the seat belt, the latches on the car door, and a person in a big hurry. So this fairly useless but cheerful tote bag has become our new car pillow.

This was a very simple project. I just turned the bag inside out and folded the bottom up to trace the curve at the top. Then I cut off the top and stitched just around the curves to hold the corners, leaving an opening for stuffing. Then I took a nap because that wore me out.

When I woke up, I stuffed it firmly, using almost the whole bag of fiberfill:

Stitched the opening closed and ta da! Finished back pillow.

Total time commitment, including hand stitching the opening closed: less than 45 minutes. (Sadly, not all in one sitting.)

I'm counting this as my orange project for the week, along with this similarly cheerful bright orange block (which  actually finished last week and forgot):

Gosh, orange is such a happy color. I should use it more.

The other thing I did this week was this little row quilt, which I plan to hang as a banner in a small space:

Hard to get a good picture of a long skinny quilt. It measures about 12 by 41. This was a row quilt pattern from a shop in Pennsylvania from 2013. I had made the components a little bit ago and finally put them together this week, then added the small borders to finish it off. Took about two Netflix episodes of Scandal to put it together. It's an unusual block, and I think it turned out well. I may quilt it up this weekend if I have some time.

That's it from here! Hope you all were feeling well and got a whole lot done this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict, TGIFF, and SoScrappy. Stop by for some quilty inspiration!