Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Get It Done - March 2013

Came across this great blog called Patchwork Times hosted by Judy Laquidara, and oh wonder of wonders, she's a list maker like me! Only sometimes I forget to make the list...

Anyway, she's got a new take on the UFO/WIP goals called "Get It Done 2013". To participate, make a list of four items that you want to accomplish during the next month. At the end of each month, post about what you accomplished and make a new list. Simple, sweet, and accountable (because I know all of you will encourage me, right?)

So, I've made my list and added it to the sidebar. I'll link to updates on the list as I go. Unfortunately, I have five items, not four. We will see what happens. Judy did say to make it challenging!

Here is my "Get It Done" list for March 2013....

1. Design and start a surprise quilt. I can't give too many details here because the intended recipient may possibly, however unlikely, read this blog. I have a general idea of what I want to do for this quilt and have purchased the central themed fabric (it is in the mail and should be here Friday if the stupid blizzard doesn't slow everything down). This is the only project with a current deadline. I have about nine weeks to complete it, so it will be a priority one the fabric arrives.

2. Complete eight paper pieced blocks for Nana's Quilt.
3. Quilt and Bind my Cubes & Illusions quilt. This is just a little tiny wall hanging that was impromptu in every way but was a lot of fun to make. It shouldn't take long to just blitz through it providing my thread doesn't break every few inches like last time I quilted.

4. Quilt & Bind Kool Kats Kwilt

 5. Complete Quilt top for Fishes & Cats Quilt
And since I'm an overachiever, I'm throwing in a couple extra, just on the off chance I get time or am bored. Think about it like I'm giving myself options..

6. Refine the Fishes & Cats pattern so that its actually useful. I published a rough draft of this for my co-conspirators over at but I'd really like to polish the pattern. Good practice you know.

7. Finish Mod Mosaic Quilt Top.

8. Quilt and bind Kaleidoscope quilt

Okay well I guess that is enough for now. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Crafty-Ful Day

Well, as I had hoped I've been able to spend most of the day sewing. And it has been so much fun.

I finished all the blocks for my Mod Mosaic Quilt. There are only six but thats okay. I wanted to make a smaller quilt this time. I'm trying to decide what color to set the blocks into, my options are grey or purple. I'm leaning towards purple. I know a lot of modern quilters like to set their blocks on a grey background but somehow I just can't get into the vibe.

 The colors just seem to pop so much better on purple.

I also tackled my Cubes & Illusions quilt. This was a little tricky, figuring out how to set the blocks without having to make y-seams (which I'm horrible at). First I choose a background and layout...

 And then very carefully cut 60 degree triangles and half-hexagons, assembling block on the diagonal until they all fit together. Yay for straight seams! I thought about making the background striped and then appliqueing the blocks onto it but I really wanted the blocks to fade into the background and the stitching around the applique would have prevented the illusion.

And Voila, my finished wall hanging quilt top....

Last but not least, I selected the fabrics for Nana's Quilt.

Oh hey.. the day is only half over. I've still got six hours before I have to go to bed for work tomorrow!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


After having completed the piecing on my purple Kool Kats Kwilt, I decided I wanted to do something different with the blue one. After all, scrappy coin borders are nifty, but  I need to branch out! Seriously! The last quilt I finished had the same style border (triangle log cabin). And it looks great, I just feel like I'm stuck in a rut.

However, thanks to my co-conspirators over on (love this message board site by the way. Everyone is nice and friendly and full of both encouragement and great ideas), and a little fiddling over in EQ7, I have a plan for a new border on my blue cat quilt.

*epic theme music plays in the background*


Now I don't know when I'm going to get to this, as I have a busy weekend planned. I get to spend the day with my favorite niece, go to my cousin's basketball game, see The Hobbit in theaters one more time, and host a Red Wings party. I took Monday off work and I know Jack wants to write on that day so hopefully it will be a crafty-ful Monday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Exponential Scrap Replication

I've been hearing rumors of this odd feature of fabric scraps to replicate faster than they can be used but I didn't really believe it. Logic dictates that if you use something, you will decrease its quantity.  However, I now have scientific photographic proof of Exponential Scrap Replication.

Here is my scrap box before starting my Mod Mosaic Quilt:

Please note how sweet and innocent and manageable my scrap collection seems to be. So I delved right in and converted some of it to approximately four square feet of usable quilt blocks.

I was so proud of myself! I'm using up what appears to be useless material and making something cool out of them. I must be making a wonderful dent and I'm going to get at least one quilt out of this box of odd and ends and mis-cuts.

 And then... I looked back at my scrap box... and was horrified to see this:

At some point when I so naively looked away my scrap collection spawned new baby scraps.

I will have to study this phenomenon in greater detail in the near future and develop an equation to explain the logarithmic growth. However, this does bring up another, possibly more pressing question. In a change of state, matter is neither created nor destroyed.... so what matter was converted into those new scraps?

Maybe its all those socks that get lost in the dryer.

Linking up to Fabric Tuesdays @ Quilt Story and Anything Goes @ Stitch by Stitch (see sidebar for links)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

No New Projects Weekend (Okay, One New Project)

I promised myself I wouldn't start any new projects this weekend. Which was rough, because my bargello quilting has been especially difficult and I just wanted to throw it aside and forget about it for a while. I spent more than 2 hours tearing out quilting that "eyelashed" around the curves.

My "eyelashing" problem. No, I didn't invent that term - I found it on another quilting website!
 Now I obsessively stop every few inches and check my tension. 75% of the problem turned out to be that I was going too fast around the curves, so I slowed down. Also it seems to be VERY important to raise the presser foot before threading. It still didn't stop my thread from breaking at least once a sunflower but I finally got all the quilting done, tedious though it was. The density of quilting is a little uneven, but I think that will improve with practice. The binding is on and just needs to be hand-stitched along the back.
Completed quilting with binding half-stitched
I've been looking for an interesting way to use some of my scraps from my scrap box. I'm not a big fan of the typical scrappy quilt. However, I did find a couple of great options. My favorite thus far is the Mod Mosaic Quilt Block by Elizabeth Hartman. Her tutorial includes a downloadable pdf.

Mod Mosaic Quilt from Elizabeth Hartman
In the case of her example block from the tutorial, I would have NEVER chosen to put all those fabrics in the same block. I think they clash. However, once the sashing is added and the block sewn together, it looks amazing! Perfect for using up scraps.

 Also making good progress on my purple Kool Kats Kwilt and I'm really enjoying the unusual symmetry of the quilt.

Since my crafting supplies budget is suddenly and unexpectedly eliminated, I've been doing research on suitable substitutes for quilt backing and batting. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that batting can be anything from a lightweight sheets to cheap fleece blankets to mattress pads to sweatshirts, and the backing can be made of anything cotton or flannel. Quilting started as a recycling craft, using leftover scraps for the top and anything warm for the batting, back in the "good ole days" when expensive craft stores were non-existent and pioneer women had to make do with what they had. I'll be bringing back a little old school quilting over the next several months, raiding thrift stores for old sheets and blankets. Should be interesting!

Oh and by the way, I totally failed at not starting a new project. I just couldn't resist trying the Mod Mosaic. Dug into my scrap bin and ran with it.

All in all, it came out pretty nifty! I've got a weird combination of prints. Someday I'd like to do a coordinated one, maybe in all reds or something.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The New York Legislature and Goal Setting

Okay, we all know that goal setting is important. Its also important, I've found, to break your goals into little achievable tasks. I was keeping track of these in a little notebook. It was great. I felt very accomplished.

I lost my notebook. I've been looking for it for three weeks. And what have I accomplished in the meantime? I couldn't tell you. Obviously a notebook system is not working in my disasterously messy lifestyle (which by the way, the cleaning up of was a goal for a while).

My mental goal list is fluid, flexible, forgettable, and every task on it seems like way to much work or will take too much time to complete. Time is at a premium. Things like "Finish that Bargello Quilt!" says My List. And then My Self replies rather snidely "That will take four hours, I don't have four hours. Lets do something else. Like play Guild Wars! Now there is something you can do in a short amount of time. Do it! NOW!"

It reminds me of this scene from "1776"

"Lewis Morris: I'm sorry Mr. President, but the simple fact is that our legislature has never sent us explicit instructions on anything!
John Hancock: NEVER? That's impossible!
Lewis Morris: Mr. President, have you ever been present at a meeting of the New York legislature? They speak very fast and very loud, and nobody listens to anybody else, with the result that nothing ever gets done."

I feel like my brain is the New York Legislature. And the best part is that I don't ever take the time to reset my goals and get organized because...why, you ask? It will take several hours. And I don't have several hours.

"....with the result that nothing EVER gets done...."

Which leads me to the reason behind my long rant: obviosly a notebook does not work. Plus, it won't fit in my purse. Of course, neither will my laptop. I may need a bigger purse. But it lead me to look at online Goal Achievement Organizers.

Here is my two cents:

 GoalEnforcer is a really great little program that lets you brainstorm, organize, plan, & prioritize in a visual setting. I love the graphics, the GUI, and the options. Its extremely easy to use, view, and see your progress. I think this may be the best long-term goal program I ran across. What I don't like is the cost. To get all the bonuses to really make the program work effectively, its about $70. That is a lot of money in today's economy and our current financial situation. It is also designed exclusively for long term goals. Daily repetitive tasks that I would like to start and track (exercise, wash dishes) are really not part of the system. I suppose you could create a different project for each day, copy the repetitive tasks to the clipboard, and add them to each project. (completely doable, adjusting dates and completions might be a little bit time consuming). Another problem: The trial version doesn't come with a time out. It has save and a few other features disabled. Which makes it hard to determine if I really want to spend the money on it, i.e. "I can't live without this!" Also, downloadable program, not available in the cloud.

This is exactly the opposite of GoalEnforcer. Its designed to encourage good habits such as exercise, chores, or bad habits like drinking too much soda, eating junk food, etc. The program seems to function on a rolling week schedule. Its easy to use, easy to understand, easy to track, and completely free. Includes exactly no frills or cool graphics, but really doesn't need them. Downsides: No long term goals/task lists, etc. You can subscribe for a year for $25 but it isn't required to get full functionality. If you like it, I'd recommend subscribing just because I believe in supporting the people who write programs that I will use.

....Too bad I can't combine Joe's Goals with GoalEnforcer.... then I'd have the perfect program.

Pretty much the same as GoalEnforcer, except significantly less visually oriented. Also, does not integrate with a calendar yet (iCal coming soon, the website says). Creates a very nice "tree" system for goals. Also has integrated the SMART system for setting goals, which is nice and which GoalEnforcer lacks. Bonuses: completely free.

WeekPlan is a weekly planner with goals and tasks. Not as barebones as Joe's Goals, as it allows subtasks (but only if you subscribe to the pro version.) Its based on the book '7 Habits of Highly Effective People.' I found it to be kind of so-so.

All in all, most of these were "OK." I liked features of each and disliked features of the each. I would probably buy GoalEnforcer if it weren't so expensive.

Sooner or later I will find a system that works for me. I will probably be using Achievr for a while.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Birds in Paradise 2.0

Hey everyone, don't have much time, just wanted to post a quick update.
I didn't like the center block of the Birds In Paradise by Nancy Bell (found in one of Carol Doak's books) so I drew the basic blocks in EQ7 and redesigned it slightly. I like it much better and this is the design I am planning on completing.
I'll be making each block 6 inches square. I especially love the secondary looping pattern made by the leaves.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hodge Podge of Projects

I continued quilting the bargello quilt but my machine was acting up. I got through about 3/4 of the quilting but the thread kept breaking. I'm finally getting the hang of the sunflower pattern (thanks much to everyone who left encouraging comments on my previous post!) I replaced my needle, cleaned and oiled my machine and fiddled with the tension. And after a few hours gave up in frustration and move on to less irritating projects. Oh the things we love the most can be the most frustrating can't they? I'll try to finish it in a couple days. I've been working on a hodge podge of different projects today instead.

So I started working on a quilt for my Nana, from Carol Doak's Easy Machine Paper Piecing Book. It has three different paper-pieced flower blocks and can be found on page 85 of the book (Birds of Paradise by Nancy Bell).

And continued working on my Kool Kats Kwilt.

Somehow one of my setting squares is 3/4 of an inch too short on one side, so I'll be tearing it out and replacing it. Not sure how that happened! Good news is I can fix it easily. The border will be about two inches wide when stitched on. However, next time, I hope to be able to do this braided border pattern that I found:
It was actually on TLC's website (go figure), here's the link: Braided Quilt Border Pattern
I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Free Motion Bargello - Win Some, Lose Some!

Remember this?
Well, I started quilting it today.
I choose the Sunflower pattern from the Free Motion Quilting Project.

And I had mixed results. Also, FMQ seems to be tough on my hands (I occasionally have carpel tunnel issues) so the going is slow. But I am getting a little better at it. The hardest thing is regulating stitch length.
And also, making the needle go where I want it to go. :)
I have chosen to space the sunflowers out and using a traveling vine to go between. I'm also using a variegated thread which doesn't show up very well on the front of the quilt.

Ah well, live and learn.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kool Kats Kwilt

I'm up to 3 unfinished quilts (tops are mostly complete, need borders) but I couldn't resist starting another one. I found this pattern, Kool Kats Kwilt by Patti Carey (click to download the pdf) and thought I'd give it a try. Its an innovative combination between a pieced cat and a snail trail block that makes it look as if the cats tails are curled together. I created the cat block in EQ7 and played around with coloring until I found something I liked.

I've actually changed this a bit based on available fabrics and how large I want the quilt to be. I will be making a total of four sets of cats, two sets in pinks and purples and two sets in blue/yellows/greens. I'm not sure how it will turn out. The plan is also to rotate the units slightly so that I can have four "wonky" units.

 There are a lot of units and the directions aren't as clear as I would like so I found it helpful to cut out one set of everything and label them using sticky notes, then stack and whack the remaining pieces.

Here is my finished collection of pieces, conveniently placed next to my sewing machine for chain piecing.

It took almost the whole weekend, but I finally mostly finished the blocks. I didn't like the way the two color sets looked together so I'm going to make two separate quilts. I'll just have to pop into the fabric store to pick up a couple more yards of background fabric.

The quilts will probably be close to 3 ft by 4 ft when completed, so crib or lap quilt size-ish. I'm debating the merits of a pieced border (flying geese maybe?).

Linking Up to MarciasCraftySewingLinkyParty
Fresh Poppy Design

Friday, February 1, 2013

Table Runner + 2(Placemat) = Baby Quilt

Remember that bargello table runner and place mat set I started a month ago or so? Well I decided I didn't like it and I pushed it aside. It was very pretty, but all wrong for my decor. I picked the colors for the gray-greens and the mauve pinks but once I combined them with blenders, I got a very nice rainbow pastel combination. That looks completely silly on my table. Oh what to do.

Turns out what makes a terrible table runner can make a great small lap quilt.
Here it is, all pieced together and waiting for borders, quilting and binding. I like this much better!