Monday, January 30, 2023

Progress During Week off Project Quilting

 Project Quilting releases their challenge every other week. This means that last week was my week off from that challenge. I focused on catching up on household work and prepping ahead for the challenge week. Laundry done. Grocery shopping done. Cooking ahead, mostly done.

2023: 15 Minutes to Stitch Week 4

I had free time this week to choose my own project. It was very difficult to stay focused. I kept wanting to work on other projects - new ones, and other older ones. I decided to make more triangles for Jazzy Blues to at least finish up that part of the project (piecing the units). I sewed up all of the triangles that I had cut. I think this means I am finished with them. I will press them, trim them, and then count them to be sure. 

I also spent some time cleaning the Cave and thinking about what to do with my scraps.

I also added some hand quilting stitches to Sonder. It just looked like it needed more stitches in the center.

15 minute days this week --7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 28 out of 28 days
Success rate  = 100%
Linked with: 15 Minutes to Stitch

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Quilt Reveal: Sonder

I made a terrible mistake the last time I presented my Project Quilting quilt. I wrote, out loud, that I had to go with the first idea that I came up with because I didn't have time for indecision. This was meant to be a guideline, not a rule. But it seems like my Idea Bank thought it was a free-for-all, and kept insisting on lots of unrealistic things for this week's challenge.

hitzi1000 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

John Steinbeck

Let's start at the beginning, and let me show you how the ideas had a free-for-all.


This week's Project Quilting challenge is to use the color pink. The pictures in the challenge post showed melon as a pink too. We already had a pink challenge, and even though this fabric is more orange than pink to me,  I decided this fabric was pink enough. The pictures in my post were taken indoors during winter lighting, so the colors in the photos are inconsistent. I did take the finished quilt outside for the reveal shot which will see later.

I found this border fabric that I wanted to play with. I had just watched a video about a type of stack and whack quilt. If you layer the fabric on top of each other so that each cut is the exact duplicate, it forms really nice designs when you sew them together.

I matched the design on one grain, but I did not match it on the other grain. I knew that precise matching of fabric would also mean precise sewing, and an improv quilt would be more forgiving to finish by the deadline. The quilt had to be finished in one week - by Sunday. Yes, I plan for failure. This meant I wouldn't have an exact kaleidoscope effect, but those lines did form  nice corners. I sewed the half square triangles together to form nine squares and sewed the squares into rows, and rows into a quilt top. Boom. Almost done. I thought I could birth the quilt so all I had to do was choose the backing fabric and I would be ahead of schedule.. 

I had two choices I thought would work well. I laid them on the stair ledge and decided to look at them in the morning light to help me make the decision. The dotted orange (which doesn't look orange in this picture) matched nicely in color and the pink would bring out the pink in the fabric of the quilt top. 

Then it happened. As I was on the exercise bike, I thought maybe I could use them both. Of course my idea wouldn't be a simple one to have an inner and an outer border. It wanted a scalloped inner border in fact. I asked my idea if it was aware of my deadline. I had to make this quilt in a week. But my ideas don't focus on implementation and deadlines. It was a good idea and Monday was a holiday. 

On Monday, I saw that I did not need an even number of blocks since I had a staggered layout, and I could make additional blocks to have a 3x4 layout instead of 3x3. But when I trimmed the blocks to square them up, I made them too small so they didn't fit. The 3x3 layout would have to work. It was a good idea; the fault was purely in the implementation.

I made the scalloped border,improv style of course, basted the inner border to the outer border first, and attached both borders to the quilt at the same time. I was still on schedule to birth the quilt and call it done.

Then I got another idea. I could add some bling to the scallops to make sure they don't flap out of position. I was going to quilt them down, but I liked their three dimensional quality. Again, I told the idea of my deadline; there are twenty four scallops on this quilt! But I can't resist the  impulse to add bling to the quilt, and I really like working on this quilt and I think it is pretty enough to make the extra effort, even if I can't be finished on time.

So, I added the bling.  I didn't have enough beads to go all the way around, and only adding them to some scallops would make it look like some were missing, so I found the wooden hearts to add to one side. I liked the beads too much to switch to all buttons.They have pretty colors and a sparkly jewel in the center.

Then I remembered that I would have to piece the batting. Which gave me another idea. I could piece the backing. This would let me use the too-small blocks instead of putting them in the Parts Department. I have been trying to use up scraps, and putting them on the back is a great way to do that. So I pieced the batting and the backing. I made sure to use the top border fabric as a border for the backing too, so there wouldn't be any other color showing if there were any issues with keeping the edges straight.


I used the acorn fabric scraps from the One Tree quilt. I did get another idea to add the leftover scallops to the back too, which may have worked, but I thought that might add too much bulk during quilting. As it turned out, I did minimal quilting, only around the edge of the borders. With the wooden beads, it is probably not washable so it didn't seem like a lot of quilting is necessary.

Ta Da! And because I was enjoying myself making this quilt, and enjoying how it was turning out, I was able to get it finished on time! With plenty of time to make this long blog post.

The front and the back of the quilt are so very different from each other, even though they have many things in common. As I was thinking of what to name it, I came across this word. 

Sonder: The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own -- populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries, and inherited craziness -- that you'll never know existed.

Julie names her quilts after words, and I think Sonder is a good word for this quilt whose front and back are so different from each other. It's got a backstory.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Progress on Jazzy Blues

When I finish making a small quilt, I usually add it to my bulletin board. Sometimes I just remove a quilt that is approximately the same size to make room, and other times, I switch other quilts too to form a cohesive theme. It keeps the decor fresh and revolving.

Several people asked me questions this week so I thought I would show you.

I have given a few small quilts away, but most of the time, I just add them to my small quilt collection. I have fun curating the bulletin board.

I have a bunch of animal quilts now, and the ones in this picture are just a few of them. I just grabbed them without digging them all out.

I do make bigger quilts too, mostly lap quilts, and a smattering of bed size quilts. Aunt Daisy is going to be one of those really big, bed size quilts. Big quilts take a long time to make, and are difficult to go through my domestic sewing machine for quilting. And I would have a hard time finding uses for big quilts since there are only so many beds in the house and they take up a lot of storage space in the summer and for rotation. Although the big may seem to be more practical, they are actually less useful to me. Small quilts are fun to make, don't take up a lot of time to make or a lot of space to store. They let me play and try out different techniques, and let me have finishes even when I can't devote large amounts of time quilting. 

Last year, I showed a whole post with my statistics, so here is an update. The number of quilt finishes increased, but the spread between starts and finishes didn't move last year. I am hoping that this year I can narrow the gap. Because I make small quilts, sometimes ugly ones I finish in a week, the number of finishes isn't that impressive.

Last year, I tried to only start quilts I was committed to finish, so I had fewer starts. I did have one more start than finish because I chose to make a big quilt that I knew I couldn't finish quickly: the Aunt Daisy quilt pattern that I am calling Jazzy Blues.

2023: 15 Minutes to Stitch Week 2

Since the Project Quilting challenges are every other week, I had free time this week to choose my own project. I decided to make more triangles for Jazzy Blues. There are more of these triangles than any other block in this quilt. I made two batches, and will need to make more. I also need to press and trim them.

15 minute days this week --7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 14 out of 14 days
Success rate  = 100%
Linked with: 15 Minutes to Stitch

Monday, January 9, 2023

Quilt Reveal: I've Got Your Back

In September of 2019, I posted a tutorial of how to make some fabric collage animals. I made several different animals for the tutorial. I wasn't sure whether I would make separate quilts or make one big menagerie quilt, so I added it to my list as one quilt. This means that I am breaking each animal off the menagerie quilt as I make a small quilt.

In December, I showed you Stand Tall giraffe. (More on that quilt below).

Today, I have the I've Got Your Back camel. I made the camel to accompany the llama. As I cut out the camel, I realized I had a lot of scrap collage left, so I also cut out other animals, including the giraffe. The giraffe got finished before the camel. That happens a lot here at the High Road. Quilts are finished out of order from their start date.

 Just like the giraffe, the camel quilt has words on it, which is then the name of the quilt.

 This piece was a sample I made to test out my machine after it came back from the hospital. It was gone for a long time and the repair was pricey so I wanted to make sure it worked right. It does.

I added a button for the eye. It is one of the many buttons on the shirts I used for the Blue Shirts Quilt. I really like this fabric to represent sand.

 Update on the Giraffe Quilt

I wanted to show you that I did add a tail on the giraffe before the end of the year. I also made sure he had two back legs.


Stand Tall is now complete.

2023: More Finishes Than Starts


I am going to try to have more finishes than starts again this year. I didn't manage to finish the camel last year, but it helps me get off to a good start this year.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Quilt Reveal: One Tree



I was minding my own business, thinking about what fabric to use for the binding for the camel quilt that I didn't manage to finish last year. It is a small quilt and a thought occurred to me that I am so glad the Project Quilting challenge helped motivate me to finish a bunch of small quilts early last year. Then, I wondered about when they would start a new challenge. I looked up the blog and see that a challenge has already been announced! It is The First One. This was on Thursday, which means my time to complete it is even more limited than usual. But it should be an easy challenge since you can just use one of something. 

Before I could even decide whether I am willing to do the challenge with such limited time, I clicked on a YouTube video of Irene of Sugaridoo showing her WIPs. One of them was her One Two Tree quilt that was a part of a quilt-along that I wanted to join but was too busy at the time. The pattern is free if you click on the link. 

Did you notice the word One in the title? What if I just make one tree and use that as my challenge? It looks like a very simple tree and looks like it will be quick to make.

Zoey, cancel all my plans. I need an emergency quilt retreat!

Then I got the bright idea that I could use one color - all greens - to really use the "One "rule. Of course it makes it harder to match the fabric. No, just add a beige and a brown and it will be fine. I found two other greens that will be fine with it. The good thing about Project Quilting is that because the deadline is so short, the first decision has to be the one I run with. There is no time for indecision when I have to get the quilt made on time.

 This Debbie Mumm acorn fabric has been sitting in my stash for a long time. One year, when I was trying to reduce the amount of fabric I had, I thought about giving it up. There is something about the shade of green that didn't really seem to match any other fabric. So I decided to use it for this project. I had been thinking about reducing the size of the tree, but once I found this fabric, I figured I could use up more if I made it full size.

I didn't take any in progress photos so now you can see the finished quilt photos. If any of you are complaining that there is black in the acorn fabric and white, yellow and pink in the background fabric, don't be hating on the fabric designers. They didn't know I would want to make an all green quilt in 2023. Besides, since I usually buy fabric on clearance, they wouldn't cater to my needs even if they did know.

Here it is, my family tree.


The original pattern calls for paper piecing, but I used improv to make the corners of the tree. The video makes it look easy, but I decided I didn't have the patience to learn it in a day. It worked out well. I had to piece the batting. I quilted a grid on it, like one of the quilts Irene made. Even though I used a walking foot, it did form a couple little tucks. Since I was just making some organic lines, some of the lines look like I missed the ditch, but I wasn't aiming for the ditch.

I was able to use the acorn fabric for the back as well.

Usually, to join the binding, I tuck it into the other part of the binding and applique it. This time, I sewed it properly. So I don't have the lump I get in some of my quilts, no matter how small I try to make the overlap.

So I made a modern quilt using Debbie Mumm fabric. It is mighty tempting to add some embellishment, but I will resist.

 For its glamor shot, I tried to find a stuffed animal, but I don't have a squirrel. I do have this applique template, but now I am tempted to add a squirrel.

2023: 15 Minutes to Stitch Week 1

I am so happy that Kate is hosting the 15 Minutes to Stitch again this year. She made a beautiful button for it too. 

I have a strong finish to start off the year, working on the camel and the tree.
15 minute days this week --7 out of 7
15 minute days this year -- 7 out of 7 days
Success rate  = 100%

Edited to add: I couldn't resist.

It doesn't look as lumpy in real life as it does in the photo.

Monday, January 2, 2023

A Recap of My Quilting Life for the Year 2022


Image by Harisankar Sahoo from Pixabay.

In this post, I go over my posts during the year and give you a summary. of the quilts I made, and any big events. I make a yearly recap every year.  Like last year, I did not have any rules - I could start and finish as many quilts as I wanted without any guilt. The key was just to enjoy the journey. This lead to some fun finishes in 2022. Then I created a rule to finish more quilts than I started. Let's see how that affected my quilting.


 I started the year in problem solving mode. I wanted to find a better storage solution for me to keep my sewing space organized and bought two of these sets of drawers.

 I made Pink and Other Colors as a part of the weekly Project Quilting challenge. I made this in one week!

I made Flight in another weekly Project Quilt challenge.

Also in January, I worked on a UFO called Lansing Leaves. I finished the migrating geese borders by adding solid pieces and attached them to the center. I also pieced the backing with the scraps. Then I put it away. Out of sight, out of mind.




In February, I made Orange 2-22-22 for another Project Quilting challenge. These challenges really help with my productivity. The fact that I could have a quilt finish on a fun date helped with the motivation too.


I also started the Aunt Daisy quilt. It is a traditional, full size bed quilt. It is fun to make these types of quilts, but although I have to be more productive to make the many pieces, there isn't a lot to show for it. I am calling it Jazzy Blues because of the colors I am using.

I made some postage stamp blocks. This is a long term leader / ender project.


In March, I picked up a different UFO, and tried to come up with different fixes. I finished quilting the body of Olympics Twist. I still need to finish quilting the borders. I also kept making blocks for the Postage Stamp and Jazzy Blues quilts.


 In April, work got really busy, to make up for the slow years and to accommodate different political decisions made by our customers. Zeus passed away during this crazy time.



Work continued to be busy in May with overtime, but I was able to devote a few minutes every day to finish Be YOUnique.


I didn't get much done in June, as work was even more busy than April and May. Why do two projects at a time when you can do four?


I spent my holiday weekend in the hospital getting my gall bladder removed.  I kept working on the Postage Stamp blocks and on the Jazzy Blues blocks.


In August, I finally had a small finish, USA, using the scraps from the Jazzy Blues blocks.


 I continued with making a Mini of the Month with Be a Peacock in a World of Ducks. The name is just to distinguish it from the other peacock quilt I made this year.


In September, I adopted a dog. I call her Zoey. She is very affectionate and energetic and requires a lot of training and attention so she has slowed down quilting progress.

October, November and December

Work got busy again, but without the overtime, I was able to make more Jazzy Blues blocks. I also played around with different layouts for this quilt. I also worked on moving the sewing room to another part of my house. 
I also spent a few minutes here and there continuing with my years-long Konmari project, where I touch everything in the house and decide whether I want to keep it. It's a big project because it is a big house but I've made lots of progress without burning out over the years by working on small areas at a time.

On the last week of the year, the lineup finished with Stand Tall.  I quilted the camel that is part of the same series, but alas, I did not have time to add the binding and embroidery on it.


So how did I do with my finish more than you start goal? Depends on how you do the math. Officially, I do not have more finishes than I have starts. I started seven quilts and finished seven. But I did make a lot of progress on the Jazzy Blues quilt - almost all of the blocks are made. I also made progress on three UFOs -  Olympics Twist, Postage Stamp, and  Lansing Leaves. I also quilted the camel quilt.
I am satisfied with the results. Having rigid rules would have meant that I shouldn't have started Jazzy Blues, knowing that it will be a big time commitment that will keep me from making other quilts. I enjoy it too much to follow that rigid rule.
I want to thank Wendy for her small quilt of the month challenge and Kate for 15 minutes to stitch challenge. They helped motivate me and gave me "permission: to enjoy myself and spend time quilting. I also want to thank all of my blog readers for coming and reading my ramblings. Your support means a lot to me.