Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 Year In Review

It's the end of the year, and I am excited to give you a recap of the posts I made and the quilts I finished this year.


I announced the word of the year in January - Transform.  The goal was to transform your life, be bold, dream big, embrace the journey.  I have to say I was very successful in this goal, more so than I imagined I would be able to.   I became more confident, really enjoyed the quilting, and finished quite a few quilts this year.

I made five circle blocks for the Circle 365 project, and prepped some blocks for the Adinkra quilt. And I worked on binding the Daisy quilt - now known as The Earth Laughs in Flowers.


In February, I made a couple of little things - a rice bag and a kitchen towel, and a Glitter block. Poor lonesome Glitter block. I will make more someday.   I finished making the Adinkra top and added the inner borders.

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In February, I also revealed The Earth Laughs in Flowers. I made my first ever Smilebox video to show it off.


I had surgery in early March, so I switched to handwork during my recovery. I made lots of Life of Plenty Blocks.


In April, I made 12 Circle blocks, and added them to the quilt top.

I also finished the top for Life of Plenty.


It was a busy time at work in May and didn't have time for much quilting.  I did share some springtime photographs.


I shared more photographs in June, and quilted a new wholecloth quilt, Button Season.


In July, I shared the finished Button Season. I also showed you some prepped 1857 blocks and one circle block.


In August, I started and finished Family Flower.  The leaves have the names of family members embroidered on them. I chose and added a border fabric for the Adinkra quilt. I won a Wingman Mini Laser-Cut Kit, and I showed you some summer photographs.


In September, I shared more photographs. I finished painting and staining my porch, got a new refrigerator, and made several visits to a local cemetery to take photographs. I joined a 7 day mystery quilt sewalong, chose a backing for the Adinkra quilt, and started the Red and White Presents quilt.


In October, I held a Finish Fest to motivate myself to get lots of work done before the second busy time at work, but the Finish Fest lasted pretty much the rest of the month. 

Besides chores and such, I finished the mystery quilt. I started the Red and White Tree quilt and shared some late summer photographs.

I also finished the Tile Quilt.


In November, I won a fat quarter bundle of fabric from Quiltmaker.

I finished the Red and White Presents quilt and the Apple Tree quilt. I made nine circle blocks and bought and reviewed the Sew Steady Table. I also started the Ringo Lake mystery quilt and the Equilateral Triangles quilt.



I spent a lot of time this year talking about the Adinkra quilt. "Look I found a fabric to use!", "I changed my mind; I am going to use this fabric instead!"  Thank you for your patience with this quilt this year. I was hoping to finish it before the end of the year, but I got sidetracked with the journal/scrapbook.  I just have one border left to quilt and the binding to finish this quilt. It will be nice to have a quick finish at the start of the year.

My last finish of December is a genealogy scrapbook. It was a lot of fun to combine my quilting and genealogy hobbies, and venture into the world of paper crafting.

Linked to:
My Best of 2017

My top five are:
  • The Earth Laughs in Flowers
  • Snowflake Mystery
  • Apple Tree
  • Adinkra
  • Genealogy scrapbook

I hope you have a wonderful New Year filled with plenty of time for crafting.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Genealogy Scrapbook

[warning - picture laden post]

As you know, I have been pursuing both my genealogy and quilting hobbies this year. I made a couple of calendars which family pictures on them, and I made a small quilt with family names on them. I've also been watching a lot of videos on how to make scrapbooks, junk journals, etc.

This week, I made a book to help interest family members in their genealogy.  I'm not sure of the proper terminology for this format, but I decided to just make something that suited my needs and let someone else decide what category to put it in!

I was thinking about making a book for each of the 16 greats-great grandparents. There used to be something in genealogy about reaching that generation.  But I got smart and thought if I came down a generation, focusing on the great-grandparents, and made a book for each couple instead of each individual, I would only have four books to make! Plus I would be able to find more facts for this generation due to record availability.  Four seems much more manageable.

I wanted to make pockets that would help them discover facts one at a time, to duplicate the joy of uncovering mysteries that genealogists get when they find records one at a time.  It was a lot of fun to make, and I think I will be making more. Some pages were more successful than others.

Front cover. The cover is basically a quilt sandwich. I used scraps of fabric, some beaded ribbon, and a decorative flower. The wooden butterfly on the ribbon can serve as a decoration or a bookmark.  The strip of fabric sewn behind the lace on the binding to keep it secure. It is tied down to keep the book in a manageable shape and secure the items in the pockets.

This is the binding. I think this burlap and lace ribbon works really well as a binding. This book is about this couple, and I was able to write the names on it for easy reference.

The pages are made out of scrapbook paper. I just folded the 12x12 scrapbook paper into half. There are three sheets of scrapbook paper folded in half in each signature, and there are three signatures. I sewed around them to make pockets before sewing the signatures to the book. Half the pages have a pocket at the top and half have a pocket at the side. There are a couple of pages that don't have any pockets.

I stuffed the pockets full of every document I could find about the couple - census records, city directory listings, marriage and death records, headstone photographs, cemetery records, obituaries, etc. There are also some tags with historical facts and quotations on them.  Each of the pocket has 2-6 things in it, based on the timing and importance of the documents, all in chronological order. 

To save you loading time, I won't show you all the pages, but here are the highlights.  I decided not to write too much in the book itself, and let the documents speak for themselves.  I wrote some things on the documents themselves to help direct the viewer on where to look (arrows where the names are mentioned, highlighting the top of the record showing the location or name of record, etc).

The first couple of pages start the viewer off on their journey.  I don't know much about this couple besides the vital statistics facts, so I started with the birth. If I had known an exciting fact about them, I might have started off with that.

In the picture above, the left side is the inside cover.  The black 67 is a tag in the doily. Behind it are a few facts about things that happened in the year 1867, the birth year of our subject, William. I was initially thinking about making half pages for their life before they became a couple, but since the pages are fairly small, and  I didn't know how many pages would be devoted to that period of time until after I filled in the pockets with documents, I decided to just keep it simple for my first book.

The next page is the birth of the other subject of our book, Millie.  The other side of the doily holds the tag labeled 69, to provide facts about things that happened in the year 1869, Millie's birth year. The tag is covering up her siblings who were there to welcome her. This first page doesn't have a pocket because I had to cut apart the scrapbook paper to keep both pages facing up because it is directional and I didn't want things to be upside down.

The clothespin holds a note card in which the reader can write down the different ways her name is spelled. I just thought it would make it more interactive that way, and the result would be interesting. (I used a pen to hold down the pages so I could photograph them.)

I also added some pockets on the pages themselves. The tag on the left lists the births and deaths of the Millie's siblings since her own birth, but before her marriage. I wanted to keep the book about this couple, but the siblings births and deaths would have affected Millie, so I wanted to make sure to include the facts.

The envelope is a fold down advertisement, which I covered up with scrapbook paper. It has facts about the names William and Millie. I wanted some facts to be simple and not as "heavy" factually to give some breathing space to rest the brain, and to interest people who are not genealogically inclined.

I also tried to make the pages interesting.  I printed and included a lot of maps, seals of the state, and other decorative elements.  I put some washi tape near each of the openings of the pockets to help reinforce them for use. I also added stickers, stamped some images, and pasted some printouts from things I found on the web. 

After I did that, I included quotations about family or life.   In this picture, the left side is a doily I colored with some markers, and the center is a fabric scrap from the fat quarter I got from Butterfly Threads I showed yesterday.

This pocket on the left has three tags, one to represent each of their three children. The right side quote "Savor your journey" is a clipping from a Weight Watcher's magazine! I found three quotes I could use in that magazine.

Here's another one of those quotes, "Life is a gift; celebrate every moment."  That leaf on the left side is a cheap tablecloth with a flannel backing. I was cutting up a piece to make a placemat for Zeus's food bowl, and had plenty of leftovers to put in here.

The page before this one was a thicker piece of scrapbook paper (in the third signature), and it was also directional, so I did not double it to make it a pocket. That made it a perfect place to divide the book into two sections. The section before was the journey, one fact at a time.  Behind if there is only these pocket pages, and I used it to provide a summary of each of their lives. It just has the "life story" printout from Ancestry.

The right side is the other side of that dividing scrapbook paper.  I included some concluding family quotations on these two pages  The one on the right has a flap, under which I wrote my name and date.

This is the inside back cover.  I decided to leave the paper blank in case I could add new things I could find, particularly photographs. It feels like something important belongs here. There is plenty of room in the book for more embellishments too. 

 This is the outside back cover. More fabric scraps.

And here's the front cover when it is not tied. I am really happy with this book.  I'm not sure how much more interesting it makes genealogy, but it was a lot of fun to make.

Linked to:
Let's Bee Social

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fabric Acquisition

I won a magazine from Butterfly Threads, and inside the package was three beautiful fat quarters. Also was a a flyer and business card about Scrap Quilt secrets, a book by Diane Knott.

I've already cut into the cream fat quarter for a project I will show you tomorrow.  Thank you Diane! What a wonderful package to receive in the mail.

My other acquisition was these pieces of gorgeous fabric my sister got for me.  I really like that they are coordinated so they can be used in the same quilt, but don't match too much that they appear matchy-matchy. They are African fabrics, but They say Dutch Wax and Flora Holland on them. It took me a while but I finally found a post that explained why. Thank you, Sis!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Ringo Lake Mystery

I've joined many other quilters to make the On Ringo Lake Mystery quilt with Bonnie Hunter.  Four steps have been released, and here's my progress so far.

The first step were simple nine patches.  I didn't get a lot of variety in the fabrics, since I am making about a fourth of the blocks, and almost wished to make more. I decided to wait to see how the other blocks went.

I've been watching Broadchurch on Netflix, and sunrises and sunsets in my own neighborhood. 

 I really like the colors - the blues, the peaches, the grays, the whites, and the dark browns.

I normally don't like making the same quilt as others and in the same colors, but in this case, it is hard to make a change. And yes, I know my bright colors don't really look like this.

This step involved making these diamond shaped things. Although it involved marking, they came together pretty easily.

And it came with these bonus HSTs.  They are tiny, and the dog ears are almost as big as the block! I'm not sure I will keep doing these, as they do take a lot of extra time to mark, sew and press. Maybe I will do some raw edge applique with more bonus triangles, if there are any.

I guess I have to talk about the flying geese.  Sigh.  I decided to do the No Waste Method, making four at a time. Let's see how many mistakes I can make with one block. I cut them wrong, so that the tips are coral/peach instead of the center. I used the same square for all the centers, so all the backgrounds are the same. I would consider this a design choice and a way to make my quilt different from the others. But I don't think so. They don't seem to have the right amount of seam allowance, so no sharp points. And they turned out not to be the right size. They weren't even fun to make.

Let's move on, shall we.  This step was fun. It had triangles, but no marking was required and they went together easily.Here's another way to make these blocks.

Here they all are in a box. I don't want to count them. Counting ruins my motivation when the numbers get so large.

Linked to:
Silly Mama Quilts wip linkup

Friday, December 15, 2017

2018 Planning Party

It's time already to make plans for 2018!

Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl is hosting a Planning Party with lots of fun and prizes, and I figure I may as well play along.  It might mean an extra one or two quilts get made if I make plans and have goals.

 2018 Planning Party

Let's see. What are my plans for my year?

1. Finish things.  I have many quilts that have been started, and have fallen farther back in the queue as I keep starting new things.  I want to move the quilt along a little bit and make it smaller.  While I don't feel the need to eliminate the line since I like working on more than one quilt at a time, it would be nice to get some quilts progress to the completion stage.  Since quilting has become easier with the quilting table, I think this goal will be more reachable than it has been in the past.

2.  Have fun.  I am hoping that I can maintain the relaxed attitude I have had lately about quilting and keep reducing quilt guilt. If I can keep the rules to a minimum, I can thoroughly enjoy my quilting and genealogy hobbies.

3.  Clean and organize.  As you know,  have been cleaning and organizing my entire house using an adapted version of Marie Kondo's Konmari Method.  I have gotten through the main spaces, and decluttered and organized quite a bit.  The next space will have to be the sewing room / craft supplies. I think it needs to be done before the more sentimental things like pictures, and I want it done before the out of the way areas like the basement and garage. I have trouble doing this area because I keep wanting to work on projects, but I think that if I dedicate some time to doing both, I may be able to get through it.

Quilting Adinkra

I've been quiet lately because I have been quilting the Adinkra quilt.  I've cut some pieces for Ringo Lake mystery, but I wanted to make progress on the Adinkra quilt while the machine was set up for quilting it.

Quilting is always scary for me, especially if I like the quilt top, because I am afraid I will ruin it with the quilting. I could have mechanical problems with thread tension or needles breaking, or I could make bad choices of quilting design and thread.

 In this case, I forgot to change the thread to a lighter one, so it was even more scary.

I chose to echo quilt around the applique and choose a different design for each row of economy blocks. After seeing some information about some doodle quilting, I decided that the echo would not be perfect echos, but a doodle that somewhat resembles echo quilting. This makes the quilting easier and more fun, since the rules are very relaxed, but even more scary since there is a greater chance that I could "ruin" the quilt with the quilting.

After a few scary "what did you do?" moments, I decided to push through, and now this is growing on me. I like the boldness, the exuberance and joyfulness, the variety and the disregard to the rules of precision. I think that if I had to be represented by one of my quilts, this is the one I would chose.

Linked to:
Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday 
ScrapHappy Finishing Fiesta - it isn't finished yet, but I am enjoying finishing it!
Moving It Forward - it still looks pretty much the same, but I've moved on to the borders now!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

November Photo Favorites in Two Collages

Once a month, I look over the photos I took the previous month and share my favorites. It gives me a reason to photograph as often as I do.  For the month of November, I had a lot of favorites, so I made two collages out of them. Both of them have the leaves theme. The first one is leaves on the ground.

I cheated a little and swapped one photo out of each collage because I liked the colors better this way. I just love how Zeus's tail looks just like the grass.

I liked the blue water with the other blue in this collage.  I double cheated on this one, because I don't normally include my quilt photos in my photo favorites, but the blue and the red fits so well with this collage that I just had to add it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Squirrels on the Loose!

I was patiently and calmly quilting the Adinkra quilt, following  the momentum I had built on quilting a couple of other quilts recently. I stitched in the ditch. Remember the good old days when stitching in the ditch was the quilting, and not the preparation for the quilting? I quilted the inner borders.  I am now working on the individual blocks. I haven't decided on what to do with the outer borders yet.

But then Black Friday and subsequent sales happened and fabric and beads and scrapbooking paper kept jumping into my cart.  Nothing like a mystery quilt to give yourself an excuse to buy fabric! I am going to make Bonnie Hunter's On Ringo Lake Mystery Quilt.  Right now, I made about a fourth of part one of the mystery blocks. I think I want a small wall hanging but I am very tempted to make the full size. I had to stop myself from making any more blocks. I think I need a bit more variety of fabrics in this set.

And then when I was making the first blocks for the mystery quilts, I decided to go into this box for a wider range of the aqua/teal colors.  And saw that even though I've collected this fabric for a long time, I haven't cut or sewn anything. I said I wanted to make this quilt a long time ago, ahem in June of 2015. I even made a label for it for my sidebar.

I decided that this equilateral triangle quilt would work wonderfully as a leader and ender.  Not much thinking required to just sew triangles together.  I cut what I could into triangles, and the leftovers can go into the mystery quilt.

Yeah, I've added two new quilts to the mix, and there are a few others that are trying to weasel their way in line.  The WIPs just took a tiny step backwards, and I will continue to work on them so they can also continue to make progress.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Review of Sewsteady Wish Table - Flat Bed Extension

A flat bed is pretty much a requirement for quilting a quilt on a domestic sewing machine. It keeps the quilt from creating drag, helps keep the stitches be more even, gives more control to the quilter, and spares some sore muscles.   You can try to prop up the space with books and other things but that is difficult since it is hard to find the right number of books to make the table level, and they do move out of position.  I did that for several years, before I was ready to admit I was a quilter.

I then bought a sewing table for my Kenmore - a real table made especially for sewing machines where the table sits inside a lowered space so the bed of the machine is level with the table, and that worked well for it.  Unfortunately, my new machine does not fit in that sewing table, so I knew I needed something for my Huskvarna Viking that gave me a flat bed.  I've been saving up for it.

One day, I found this at a good price, and decided to go for it. The Sewsteady Wish Table (affiliate link) comes up with the extension table (the flat bed), and has some bonus things, like the drawer, a table lock, a vinyl cling ruler, and a circle sewing tool.

Decision Making

Deciding on whether to get the table, and what kind to get took me a while.  There are different sizes, and there is an option to get the table without the accessories.  I wanted to get as big a table as I could get that would fit on my desk where my sewing machine lives.  My table is pretty small, but I read the reviews, and they told me how far apart the feet are, and it seemed like it would just barely fit.  I wasn't too worried though, because I would always put the sewing machine on a bigger table for quilting. Having it fit on the desk would be preferable though.

The Purchase

Buying the Sew Steady Extension Table was very easy. Just put it in the Amazon basket and buy it.  A day or two later, they sent me an email requesting the make and model of my sewing machine and then they shipped it.  It didn't take long, because they apparently make several kinds and give you the one that is the best fit for your machine.  You don't need to measure anything.

They sent several emails asking me how I liked it, and telling me they wanted me to be happy, and asking me to write a review on Amazon. The first one came the same day they shipped it. It was nice that they wanted me to be happy.

Some Assembly Required

It came pretty quickly.  It does need some minor assembly.  Those black table legs have to be put in the spaces. That part is pretty easy.

Here you can see that the table leg just barely fits over the edge of the desk I am using. All the feet fit firmly on the table. I can use the table right where it is. Yay!

 Here you can see that the back table leg just fits on the desk too.  The table itself goes past the desk, but this does not cause a problem. You probably won't be cutting it so close when choosing a size, but I thought I would show it to you just in case.

Then you turn the bottom to move the legs up or down until it is even with the bed of the machine. This part was not as easy, because some of the legs required me to turn left to move up and right to move down, while the others were the opposite. So first, I had to figure out which turn did what before I could get it to do what I wanted.  And of course, to get them to work together, this required several turns. Still, that part isn't that hard. We're quilters; we have patience.

There is a vinyl cling that gives you the guidelines for sewing. I was really excited about this part because I thought it might mean I could do half square triangles without marking  You have to put the cling on your machine so you can see exactly how it will fit on the machine, and cut out the part where the table is cut to fit  the machine. Then take out the backing and position it under the table. The cling is very thin though, and even though I tried to be careful because of that, it ripped right away as I was trying to position it.

I did ask them for another one, but they told me I could buy one.

To place the table on the sewing machine, you have to take out the storage compartment.  On the one hand, this isn't a big deal, because you wouldn't be able to get to the storage compartment anyway once the table was over it, but it does mean one more thing to keep track of. It does fit under the table so it isn't that big a deal. A bonus is that the table comes with a drawer and it is clear, so you can see exactly where everything is. Another unexpected bonus is that there is room under the table to store more things out of the way but handy.

Everything seems to fit pretty well on the table and it is ready to sew.

Here you can see that the table isn't really custom designed for the machine, since it doesn't go all the way to the edge of the bed.

Test Drive

I tried it out by quilting some small quilts on it.  Because they were small, they probably wouldn't have created much drag anyway, but it was really nice not to have to worry about the quilt weight. I did a couple of those.

Now I am trying it on a bigger quilt, starting with quilting in the ditch with the walking foot.  The table does a great job holding up the quilt and avoids drag.  The quilt does get stuck on the edges of the table - the rounded edge at the front of the picture.  You do have to watch to make sure a part of the quilt isn't stuck there or on the edge on the other side, which would cause a bigger problem than the drag would, making the quilt hard to maneuver, and keeping the needle going over the same space over and over again, or making very small stitches.

Then I moved on to free motion quilting.  It worked fine for me, although Amazon does recommend the Super Slider (affiliate link) to help make the quilting even smoother.

The table is strong enough to hold the weight of the quilt, but you do have to be careful to put too much weight on it.  I wouldn't lean on it to help me get up after a long afternoon of sewing, for example.

Another thing to note is that I do have to move the table in order to get the bobbin cover off.  It is an easy matter of sliding it away and back. I haven't tried the table lock so I'm not sure how it would work with that.

The Circle Tool

The Circle Tool is a nice bonus to have. It helps you sew circles.  I had a hard time understanding the directions, and found a YouTube video that explained how to use it. Looking back at the directions, I'm not sure how they could have explained it differently, but basically the blue thing (they call it a pinmoor) faces up, and you put the two feet into the holes in the table. Find the center of your desired circle on the fabric. Take off the blue pinmoor and put that center spot of your fabric onto the needle that the pinmoor covered, and sew.  The tricky part when using embroidery stitches is to fix your stitch width so that the join between the start and the finish is smooth.

Also the circle tool makes fairly big circles. I haven't tested it yet to see what size circles it makes normally.  I am thinking of quilting my circle 365 quilt with circles.

In the sample above, I was trying to see if I could make a smaller circle. Since the tool wasn't properly positioned, it must have moved a bit, which is why it isn't circular. I am sure that when used correctly, it will be circular. It did leave a noticeable tiny hole in the center, which may be due to my not following the rules. I haven't tried it out past this so I couldn't say for sure.

Overall Impression

The table does work to provide an extended flat bed on the machine, making it easier to quilt. I originally thought the table was okay, but nothing spectacular.  But while I am quilting each quilt, I am thinking about how I am going to quilt the next quilt, and not thinking about the next new project I want to make.  This is not  normal for me, so this table should get credit for that. I'm not sure what they could do to keep the quilt from getting stuck on the edges, and it pretty much does what it says it does.

The flimsy vinyl cling and the weird feet hopefully are one time issues, but they do cause some minor issues.  I am going to give this four out of five stars.