Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Starting Over ...

I'm sure you recall my angst back in September when I spent hours and days getting my sewing room into workable shape! ... If you've forgotten, there's some blogging about it hehehe  And now, here we are in Florida and guess what?  I have to figure this space out all over again!  I KNOW!!  life is cruel sometimes lol!!  But tote by tote and box by box here I am again trying to make order out of chaos!  Sounds like an MI5 task!  Where's my shoe phone??!!

See you when I surface from this mess!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

50 Quilts From Stash -- Can it be done??

Oh, you betcha!!  Can I make 50 quilts from my stash?! For sure!  How long do I have? as long as it takes! But I'd sure like to see it done in 2011!  So that would be a LOT of quilts in 14 months!  hmmm when I look at it like that, can I really do it??!!  YES, I can!  Can you?

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Assistant?

Under a little pressure to finish a quilt yesterday, Howard offered to help.  But he had to get all his gear on in order to do a proper job of it!! This man cracks me up!  The sun glasses are not because of the bright lights -- they are his safety goggles!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Start New Projects!!

Did that title make you blink?  Here I am for the past few weeks studiously working on cataloging and organizing my UFOs -- unfinished objects -- and stewing about what to finish next and what to do to get things finished by the end of the year.  And then I encourage you to start something new!!

I haven't lost my mind!!  I promise!!   And finishing up these things is still really, really important to me!  But you know, sometimes just working on "old" things can be downright boring!!  Where's the fun in looking at new fabrics and patterns that inspire you if you can't focus on how much fun that new project will be.  Talk about a "downer"!!  And what about that new technique you saw your friend using?  Or the new ruler that your local shop is carrying?!!

Do you feel like a hostage to your UFOs?  Are they overwhelming you?  Follow some of the tips offered in earlier posts and then get your creative juices flowing again.  Got a pattern you have fallen in love with?  What fabric to use? what color choices?  How can you resist the call of the new project?!  Your UFOs are still going to be there, and you can still work on them ... but give yourself a break and have some fun with a new project!

Guilt is a terrible thing to waste -- so save it for something besides those unfinished objects that are sitting around.  Remember that you'll get to them eventually, or they'll find new uses and new homes eventually.  Focus on having some fun!!

I'm off to cut fabric for my new Saturday mystery class -- maybe it will be a UFO someday, but in the meantime, I'm having fun choosing fabrics from my stash!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bonus view!

Even though I hadn't scheduled it for today, I also went to work on my sewing station.  Here it is (even found the scissors that belong to this space!) all ready for me to work.  The little pile of fabrics to the left of the machine are the "Potato Chip" bags that were a work-in-progress before my room exploded!

So tonight is probably hand-sewing, but look out tomorrow!  When that sun comes up, I'm ready to go to town in my sewing room.

And lest you think I'm done .... there's one more space in the sewing room that I haven't tackled.  Here's what's waiting for me ...  This is the big double closet in the sewing room.

But I'm going to close the doors and think about it another day!

There is a light ...

You probably didn't believe me when I told you that my sewing room was a disaster ... but here's the proof!!  I not only couldn't cut on this cutting center, I couldn't even find a pair of scissors or a rotary cutter!  So my primary goal for today was to find my cutting mats under all this, and actually have a place to work again!

With a couple of stops along the way to do some "normal" housework and have some lunch, I can show you that four hours later, I really have a cutting station ready to go!

The red Folgers coffee container is what I throw my bits and pieces in while cutting.  And the basket that is kind of overflowing at the far side of the table are scraps that need to be cut into strips.  I've even got my mystery group notebook out to cut my pieces for this month's class which is on Saturday.  Oh, wow!  It's not even Friday and I can cut my pieces!!

How do you count UFOs?

Another good question someone sent me yesterday!! And the answer is: Any ole way you want to count them!! lol!! The real answer is that YOU get to decide when a project is finished!

Is it finished when all the blocks are done? Or when you've made enough blocks? Or when you decide you really don't want to make any more blocks and you'll use what you've done for something else?

Many people count a UFO if it is a project that has already been started. Others decide that a UFO is a work in progress, even if it is only in your mind! Is an idea a UFO? It is if you think it is!!

Here's how I count UFOs:

It's a UFO if I've cut some fabric for the project and want to continue with that project.

It's a UFO if I have a pile of blocks and I know what I'm going to do with them.

It's a UFO until the blocks are together and it's "officially" a top! Once it's a top it's really a completed UFO unless I decide I'm going to quilt it myself. Then it becomes a new UFO (but the original one comes off the list). Before I had my own longarm, a finished top was a completed UFO. These days I add the steps to quilt and bind before it gets off the list.

It's a UFO if I have all the fabric and the pattern together in a package -- for me it means I'm close to working on the project. But I always have the option of returning the fabrics to my stash and putting the pattern away and PRESTO! I no longer have that UFO on my list!

After you decide on your UFO definition, and it scares you to pieces (eeeeeeeeeek!!) you can make different lists!! lol!!

Make a list of PIGS (projects in grocery bags)
Make a list of PIMMS (projects in my mind)
Make a list of PIPS (projects in progress)

And before you know it -- you won't have any more UFOs!!

I'm off to tackle the cutting table today. Wishing you a sew wonderful day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

UFOs -- Can't live with them ... Can't live without them ...

Or can we?

Recently there has been much discussion on managing our UFOs, particularly when they reach the volume that causes undue stress, often immobilizing us by the sheer numbers!  Can we avoid this trauma? never have a UFO? huh? You mean, start a project and actually finish it before starting the next one?  While I know many people who have the ability to do this, I sure can't wrap my head around it, never mind developing the restraint to avoid the next shiny ball that comes through the Internet! but if you get too carried away, your space could look like this!

What to do ... what to do ... Here are some things I've tried in the past:

About 10 or 12 years ago, a friend who is very organized came to my house in Virgina all the way from Michigan.  Her mission -- help me get control.  Did it work?  She was totally awesome!  But it was too traumatic watching things going out the door for donations or tossed somewhere ... Yes, my sewing room was definitely more organized, but I still mourn some of those projects that found new homes hehehe ... Wouldn't do it again!

Another idea that I tried was picking the top 7 projects from my list or piles and make a page for each in a small notebook.  Each day, whatever amount of time I had allotted to working on quilts I would work on the quilt for that day.  So, I started out budgeting an hour a day to sewing.  If I ended up with more available time, I could spend it on that day's project OR I could work on another day's OR I could even choose anything else I wanted to play with -- new or old.  I used this system for a long while -- it gave me freedom to start new things, or focus on something for longer time and I found that things were getting finished and off the UFO list.  It was good, really!  But then somewhere along the way I decided it wasn't "perfect" for my needs, so I haven't used it in a while.

Have you tried the "bobbin method" of project management?  This was my own little idea a while back.  Wind up a bunch of bobbins in colors you might need for various projects.  I happen to use only a selection of neutrals for piecing, so I had white, ecru, grey and black bobbins.  I start with a full bobbin and the first project.  At the end of the bobbin, I switch to the next project.  Keeps me from getting bored hehehe ... and again, frequently by the end of the first bobbin I'm in a zone and keep working on that one project.  But I have given myself options for switching off.  Sometimes I still fall back on this method!

Next I read about someone who assigned dollar values to each of the steps involved in the quilt all the way to finishing.  And she paid herself for her work!  Now, that was a good motivator for me!!  I promptly opened a special savings account and made a list of steps for the UFOs that looked sort of like this:

Assessing the state of the project
Completing the blocks
Putting the top together
Fixing the backing
Attaching the binding

Each step was worth $1 ... then I added some more monies:

Each week I didn't buy fabric was $5
Each quilt that I quilted was $10
Binding was worth $2
Each bobbin was $.25 and each spool of thread was $.50 (cones were more of course!)

There's probably a few other things in there, but it works really nicely!  At the end of each month I tally up what I've done and put that money in my ever-growing little pot.  I'd love to buy a new sewing machine some day with the money ... but I guess I have to finish up some more UFOs before that can happen!!

Today I was entering a list of UFOs into one of my list databases because I wanted to participate in the UFO Challenge for the rest of the year.  Though I stopped at Number 80, I easily could have kept going, and even thought of a couple as I went along (so much for thinking I've got it under control), and of course I didn't include any of the six projects I just printed out over the weekend.  What I did do over the past few days, though, is make some priorities to the projects on my list in the hope of finishing a number of them as Christmas gifts.  My initial intent was to choose the top few, which unfortunately turned into the top "many" but, hey, I can do the best I can do!  I've taken those top projects and broken down the steps I need to complete each one ... then I went one step further and really did cull off the top 5 to work on.  I put these projects on index cards that are now sitting beside my sewing machine along with the projects.  Presto!!  I no longer felt overwhelmed!

The rest of the UFOs are in their tidy little bags in the tidy little closet, and I feel like I can function again.  Here's my after shots of the little closet in my sewing room ... One space done, three to go!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Does it Make Sense?

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit.
"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

I think I feel like Pooh when I look around at my current (and not-so-current) projects and the state of my sewing room.  Don't worry, I'm not going on a self-discovery journey here to determine how I got into this mess! I'm just once again feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of "things" and the chaos that spreads the more I ignore my sewing space ... And what did I do recently that put me into this slump?  I just bought five, FIVE, new quilting books and I want to make every quilt in every book ... and I can't even see space to open the book!

My list of "things to do" this week didn't get much attention as I pretty much just stayed drugged and asleep after my hernia repair surgery on Monday. Topping that list is a note to give some attention to the sewing room so that I feel happy to go in there again.  Right now I just turn my head away when I walk by!  And though I really haven't had any vim or vigor to attack the room, I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about it (hey, that counts!!) and hope that this weekend I'll take some steps.  I can see that you've perked up now that there might be some actual activity taking place here, so here's my plan.

1.  Make a list of Christmas gifts for this year -- you do realize that Christmas is just a few days away?

2.  Update my inventory of unfinished projects.  Identify 6 of the oldest projects and/or the ones closest to being completed tops.  Set them aside in their own project drawer (I have a small collection of those storage units on wheels that aren't being used right now -- perfect for this!!) If there is anything in that UFO pile that fits in the list made in Item #1, put it in the top drawer!

3.  Clear all surfaces in the sewing room (that includes the floor!!).  I find myself making piles everywhere -- a fabric group for a project; a stack of fabric that are all coordinates; a bag full of something I was working on.  Put it ALL away somewhere ORDERLY so I can find it again and use it again!  No "stuffing it" allowed!  All parts of a "work in progress" need to go together in those big zipper storage bags (don't you love those??!!) and the projects need to be put on the shelf, not the cutting table!  Maybe then I'll have some room to work!

Well, that should take me the rest of the weekend to accomplish.  When I can walk by the sewing room and actually look in and smile, I'll consider it a "job well done" and can move on to Phase II.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Breast Cancer Fundraising Idea

There probably isn't any one of us who hasn't been touched by breast cancer -- personally, family member, or dear friend.  I'm sorry to say that I've worked on many quilts for women fighting the good fight to survive.  Yesterday I read a message from a Stashbuster (group list on yahoo) about these fantastic cup holders that she and a friend had designed that could be used at a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness and research.  I thought you might love the idea ..  And if you want to make some and don't know where to send them, let me know!!

The pattern can be found on Judy's blog Loose Fibers

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleaning up the sewing room ... again!

I have the never ending love/hate relationship with my sewing room.  Once it is cleaned up, I love my space -- and I really do know how fortunate I am to actually have an entire room devoted to my sewing!! -- but then I spend a day or two ... or an hour or two ... in there and it invariably begins to look like a tornado has blown through there.

We're getting ready to go on vacation, and one of the things I love love love is to come home to a neat, clean and orderly house.  The only way that can happen is if I leave it that way to begin with!! And after two weeks of playing in the sewing room with Jenny and Sophie, it really really needs some TLC!!

I had a playdate with my friend Bonnie today and we were laughing that I had sent Jenny home with a whole suitcase full of fabric and my sewing room doesn't look a bit different!! And I still couldn't find that piece of light pink that I wanted to use today!!  So my project tomorrow is to arm myself with a box of jumbo zipper bags to organize the pattern/fabric piles that are everywhere and maybe I'll end up with some if not all of the surfaces in my sewing room visible,

And I will rest assured that it will stay that way until I get home with a head full of NEW projects!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Vacation Project

Is this the cutest wallhanging??!!  I've been saving up this block of the month from Angie's Bits and Pieces since the first of the year and when my darling niece, Jenny, saw them she flipped!

We went to work right away choosing the background fabrics that we wanted -- that took two days lol!!  Then we put our trees together, which was another three days because this is big!!

Finally we were able to start on our owls, but what decisions we had to make!  Each one of these little guys had our full attention as we put together, heads and bellies and feet and wings.  And as each one developed we found that we had to give them names!  We're only halfway done with the year, but for now say hello to Stu and Bert and Bonnie and Tweet lol!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SITP - Notes from Steve

Going through some files I found some notes from Steve Bennett of Judy Martin Books.  Steve has been a huge help and supporter on the Shakespeare in the Park project.  Here's some tips from him!

1. Make a sample of each type of block. Far better to work out any misconceptions or errors before everything is cut!

2.  When making the Snail Trail block, the center 4-patch should measure 3.5" before the next round.  After the second round, the block should measure 4.75" NOT 5".

3.  The listed sizes for the blocks in the quilt (12 inches and 6 inches) are finished sizes, so sitting on your design wall the two blocks should measure 6-1/2" and 12-1/2 inches.

4.  All of the patch dimensions in the book are correct. The C triangle is cut from a 3-7/8 inch square. The F triangle is cut from a 2-3/8 inch square. The geometry and the math for these patches are correct.

5. The G patch is a quarter-square triangle. Four G triangles are cut from a square that is cut 4-1/4 inches. You cut along both diagonals of the square before separating any of the patches.
6.   The I patch is correct, but most people are unfamiliar with whatJudy was doing. She presents such patches differently now. Judy still cuts things like the I patch just as she presents in the book.  It enables her to cut the long side of each triangle on the lengthwise grain.

For simplicity's sake, however, she would today tell you to cut quarter-square triangles from squares that measure 7.25 inches. You'll end up with 4 triangles that measure 7.25" on the long side and 5.125" on both short sides. When finished in the quilt, they'll measure 6" on the long side and 4.25" on the short sides.That might change the yardage a little, but it shouldn't make a difference in the listed yardage requirements. 

7.   The large flying geese units will be 6-1/2 x 3-1/2 with their seam allowances and 6 x 3 without. The small flying geese units will be 3-1/2 x 2 with their seam allowances and 3 x 1-1/2 without.

Let's Do IT ... SITP updated

Today I learned that the yahoo group list for SITP has been dissolved,  Quite a few folks have written me asking for the files, and I'm sorry to say that the list was not mine and therefore I do not have the posted files :(  But what I do have is a strong desire to help my quilty friends with this awesome project that I started back in August 2009.  Wow! does that make me cringe at yet another UFO sitting there for a year.

So, here's the deal ... some introductory posts are on the blog already and also the first three or four weeks of assignments.  I will work for the next two months to get all the way through the project for those who would like to continue or to start this remarkable quilt designed by Judy Martin.

Go check the archives here and let's get started!  Pass the word that Shakespeare is on the move!! hehehe ... email me with questions ( or post comments here.

Here's the link to get you started!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clean Sewing Room!

Woooohooooo!!!  I worked all afternoon on my sewing room!  Put project parts all together, found good stuff, emptied tote bags that were storing "stuff" and cleaned off the cutting table and the sewing table!!!  Now I'm ready to work!  Got everything in nice little sections on my sewing table and tomorrow will be a sewing day!  One of my group lists is having an online retreat for the weekend and I do believe I have enough things ready to sew and sew!!

My plan for tomorrow is to fix the backing for a (very very old!) UFO and get it loaded on the machine (pictures to follow when I actually get it on there!!), and put the borders on a strip quilt.  then I have bits and pieces waiting to be worked on to complete a few other projects ... AND I am going to get the cutting done for two upcoming mystery projects!

I'm loving the good weather and my increasing energy level!!


A couple of weeks ago I was searching for some project parts and ended up having to remove two shelves of fabric from my closet, only to find that the project was neatly stored in its little container where it should have been.  Sheeeesh ... how did it get there??!!  While removing the fabric and replacing it I realized that this was a huge burden -- I couldn't find some small pieces that I needed because there were so many yards and yards of fabric sitting in the way!

Before I go further, I need to point out that the shelves in this double closet hold fabrics that I don't have room for in either the 10 cabinets or second closet!  This is HOARDING!!  I spent a week really fretting over all this fabric, asking myself what on earth I was doing!  Why was I holding on to all of this??!!!  Finally, after a few sleepless nights and days of anxiety and distress I realized what a ninny I am!! (I know, to some of you this is not a revelation!! hehehe)

I have been holding on to some of this stuff for years just waiting for the "right" project or the "perfect" special occasion .... HELLO!!  It occurred to me (again, not news to most of you!) that I can use up a lot of this fabric for many things -- quilts for friends, quilts for charities, fabric for donations ... and the list goes on.  I would so much rather give a quilt to a friend "just because" than to leave this world with piles of fabric sitting here!

So I came up with a plan!  I made a monthly list of people I want to make quilts for.  I've been asking folks for their favorite colors and adding to the list.  And if I give them a quilt this year, I may even give them a quilt next year!  Or they may get two quilts in one year!  I don't have to wait for weddings and Christmas.  I can give quilts JUST BECAUSE I can!  After coming up with my plan I told my husband who was happy to hear that I'm ready to use up fabric.

And at the sewathon this past weekend, I only came home with 10 more yards!!

I'm striving for progress ... not perfection!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Retreating is so fun!!

Went off to a quilt retreat at my favorite local quilt store this weekend ... What's Your Stitch 'n Stuff in Virginia Beach ... and had so much fun!  They hold the retreat quarterly, starts on Friday evening, resumes Saturday morning and runs until midnight, then all day Sunday until about 6 p.m.  Lots of the meals are provided, and groups go out for others or take-out orders come in.  And it's hours of sewing and companionship and tons of laughing!  I was totally exhausted when I came home last night, but had a blast! 

I worked on several projects while there, but the most fun was a baby quilt made out if strips of mostly 1930s reproduction fabrics.  Then I put in a few rows of chenille -- my first time using chenille by the inch! -- and some words for babies (eat, sleep, play, repeat) and it's just the cutest darn thing!  When I finish the top this week I'll post some pictures for you.

At the "closing ceremonies" I was totally blown away to receive an MVP award from my teammates!!  Actually brought me to tears!  I'm sure that the chocolate dessert I brought contributed to their good feelings towards me, but no matter -- I was touched :)

Great weekend ... now back to sewing!

Friday, March 5, 2010

An Internet Quilt Along!

On one of my Yahoo lists some folks were posting pictures of a block they made using jelly rolls -- now, how many jelly rolls do you have stashed away waiting for THE BEST project??!! -- so I went on a quest to find out what they were doing!  What I found was a great blog "Moose on the Porch" where Konda has started the Jelly roll Sampler Quilt Along 2010!  It just started this week, so you can easily jump in!  A new block will be posted every two weeks, and she's even got prize drawings!

I'll be back later after I sort through my jelly rolls!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pillowcases are fun!

As promised, here's some instructions for the pillowcases I made this weekend -- super easy!!

Begin with three pieces of fabric cut the width of the fabric
27" x 42" for the body of the pillowcase
1 3/4" x 42" for the accent piece
11" x 42" for the cuff of the pillowcase

Here are my choices ... I'm making this for a young friend of mine who has a birthday coming up next week!

The first thing to do is take your accent piece and fold it in half, wrong sides together and press so you have a nice even folded piece to work with. Open up your pillowcase body so the selvedges are on each side (working across the width of the fabric) and pin the accent piece to the right side of the fabric.

Now take your cuff piece and open that up so the selvedges are on each side and working across the width of the fabric, pin this on the WRONG side of your pillowcase fabric right along the edge where you pinned your accent piece.

Good so far?

Lay your pinned pieces out and roll UP the body of the pillowcase, and bring the lower edge of the cuff to the front, so you're sort of stuffing the body into the cuff.

Pin this all the way across so you end up with a big of a fabric "sausage roll" ...

And take this over to your sewing machine and put in a 1/4" seam across that entire pinned edge.

All of this should have taken you maybe a half hour to 45 minutes.

Here's the next fun step! Choose one end of your tube and reach in to find the pillowcase body. Begin to pull it out, turning the cuff right side. It's almost like birthing a quilt (only way smaller and easier!).

Once you have it all turned right side out, take it to the ironing board and press your cuff flat. Back to the cutting board and fold your pillowcase so that your selvedges are on the right and the left. Trim off the selvedges and any uneven edges so that both sides are completely even with each other.
With WRONG sides together, fold your pillowcase and stitch down the open side and across the bottom USING A SCANT 1/4" SEAM. Yes, you're reading this correctly -- sew this with wrong sides together. When you're finished, trim off the two bottom corners. I generally put a pin at the point where the accent pieces match to be sure they are totally lined up with each other, but it's not required.

Turn your pillowcase inside out.
Back to the sewing machine and stitch those same two seams, only this time use a 3/8" seam allowance. You want to be sure you catch the first seams in this one. This is going to give you a beautiful closed seam on the inside so you'll never have little threads tangling up inside there. Once again, trim your corners so that they form nice crisp edges when you turn your case back right side.

And here's my finished pillowcase just in time to send to my little birthday friend!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm back ...

I was shocked at the date on the last post ... a much longer hiatus than I had envisioned, and my apologies for the delay in continuing our Shakespeare In the Park journey! I'll resume the class later this week, so thanks for your patience.

It's been an "interesting" few months, culminating with my gastric bypass surgery in January -- definitely a life changer! But it's all goooood :) As my weight goes down my energy level is going up, and that is definitely a positive exchange!

I spent the past weekend on a quilty retreat at my favorite local quilt store, What's Your Stitch 'n Stuff and, as always, had a blast! It being Valentine's weekend, I spent a little bit of time working on a gift for my darling husband, Howard -- special pillowcases for the day :) I learned a great new way (for me) to make these little quickies and tomorrow I'll post a little tutorial on how I made them. It's a good excuse for me to make some more!!

See you tomorrow! Hope you are keeping your sewing machines warmed up! I've got a small pile of tops ready for the longarm ... are you a topper or a finisher? lol!!