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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rest and more rest

I had a nice Christmas day then....

the after Christmas stay in bed thing hit me..... fever, hot then cold, exhausted, can't seem to get moving, achy, hurt all over kind of thing.

My body's way of saying enough! You pushed yourself to finish all the Christmas rush now its time to rest. So I rest.....and rest.....and rest until my body says its time to get back to work. It's my vacation time. What's better for a vacation than rest?

Yesterday I got up and cleaned house and washed clothes and read some emails. Gosh there sure are a lot of emails when you don't get on the computer for a few days. Then put a quilt on the machine to get me started back into the routine.

Today I plan to do the end of year paperwork to get it out of the way. Pay some bills. Do a little more cleaning. Then maybe work on my challenge quilts a bit too. Pretty easy and boring stuff.... I'm still in rest mode and not anxious to get back to work. Tuesday is my birthday so I'll probably wait until Wednesday to really get back into the work routine.

Before I get started for today though..... I have some web ring catching up to do.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Last minute gifts.... for my nieces.

I was up late last night cooking and finishing these pillows. Other than that there isn't much going on.... relaxing and enjoying my time off.

New type of clamps

These are the clamps on my machine. I replaced the large gripper type with these not long after I got the machine.

Sometimes I need wider coverage than these clamps give. I tried the type done by Sharon Schamber. Those take too long to pin on and unpin off. I saw some wide clamps in a magazine that I could buy for $18. They clamp only the backing and not the batting. Those wouldn't work for me either. So I made my own....

I took two pant hangers and will use them. I found the felt did not give enough grip to the batting and backing. It kept slipping off so....

I removed the felt .....

and replaced it with shelf liner....

Now the clamps give the the wide clamp grip I sometimes need....

Costing me just a little over $3. I still have trouble with the machine bed bumping the new clamps. These will do for now. I will think about some other alternative that doesn't bump the bed as I work with these for awhile.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I've been cleaning

I realized I hadn't written anything in my blogs for a couple of days. I've been cleaning and working on challenge quilts. And..... planning next year. Mostly relaxing and enjoying the rest I'm getting.

Today is more shopping with my daughter. She's anxious to get more baby stuff so she has everything ready when the time comes. She still needs bottle brushes and crib sheets and other odds and ends. Of course.... diapers.

I'll take the opportunity to shop for some things I need too. A new time box and a few odds and ends stuff.

I plan to make another horse quilt like this but without the unicorn horn. I've been shopping my stash and making a kit for it. It will be for my son that trains horses. For next Christmas.

I hope to finish up the Victorian man and woman quilt and a couple of challenge quilts over the holiday break. It's rare that I have actual leisure time to relax and create. I want to make the most of the time while I have it. With that said..... I'm off to create a while before my daughter picks me up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lookie... Lookie... empty shelves!

First the finished quilt for today. This one is for a very special little 5 year old girl who has sickle cell. It's to take to the hospital with her each time she gets sick and needs a transfusion. The bunny panel was sent to me by my internet friend Kathi..... back in April. The minute I saw the panel I knew who would get a quilt from it. I call the special little girl.... Miss Bunnie.... because she is as cute as a bunny. I added the yellow borders to make it large enough.

And.... look, look... see the empty shelves.....

and the empty drawers....

Know what that means? It means the Christmas rush 2007 is officially over... none to be done... none to be picked up. My sister in law is coming over tomorrow to use the machine to finish up her last quilt. While she is doing that I may do a bit of cleaning.... or not....


I have quilt tops brought to me where the sashing is added wrong. The person will sew the sashing on one side of the blocks..... sew into rows.... then take one very long strip of fabric for the sashing in between the rows. This is wrong. It's nearly impossible to get the blocks matched correctly at the corners. With a long strip of fabric.... where is the corner?

This is how I put sashing between the blocks for accuracy.

First.... a little bit of information about my blocks for this project. Many of my customers save tiny bits of fabric for me. I love all the pretty fabrics I get. I also save my used dryer sheets to use as the foundation for string blocks. I prefer dryer sheets over paper because the dryer sheet can remain inside the quilt. I don't have a mess pulling paper off. Dryer sheets are also much thinner than muslin so they don't add a lot of weight to the quilt.

Here are a group of my string blocks I want to put sashing around before sewing into a quilt top.

I counted the blocks out and found I have enough blocks to do 8 rows across and 10 rows down.

I'm not trying to win a contest with this quilt. I pull out a piece of donated fabric with enough yardage to make the sashing.

I cut strips of sashing.... pin to one side of all the blocks.... and sew. Press the seams toward the sashing strips on all the blocks.

I repeat the pinning and sewing for another side. This would be the top of the blocks in the quilt. Pressing the seams is a little different this time.....

I divide the blocks in half... press one stack with seam going toward the sashing.... one stack with the seam pressed toward the block. This will allow the sashing seams to lock together when the blocks get sewn together into rows.

Now I have to think about sashing on the outside edge of the right side row and bottom row of the quilt. I'll start with the bottom row. My top is 8 blocks across so I pull out 8 blocks. Half with seams pressed toward the sashing.... half with seams pressed toward the block.

I sew a third sashing to these blocks along the bottom. This puts a sashing strip along the bottom row of the quilt.

I press the sashing the same as the previous added sashing. If it's pressed toward the block on the top end of the block... it should be the same on the bottom end.

Now I have to add sashing along the right side row. The quilt is 10 rows down so I pull out 9 blocks with two sides sewn.... and 1 block from the stack with three sides that I just finished. Again... half with seams pressed toward the sashing, half pressed toward the block.

Sew a third sashing along the right side of these blocks. Not the bottom. Press all the seams toward the sashing.... but.... keep the blocks separated into two stacks. Half are the seams pressed to the sashing, half pressed to the block. So they look like this....

Only one block will have sashing on all four sides. This is the block that goes in the bottom right corner of the top.

Now I can sew the rows together. I want to be sure I don't get my block rows mixed up. I usually start with the bottom row. Pull one block from one stack and another from the other stack. Lock the seams together at the corner and sew together.

I still have several bocks with only two sashing strips. These are my block rows.

When I am sewing the rows together I have to remember to add one... at the end of each row.... with the outside sashing added.

Ok, I have the piece turned wrong for this picture but it shows the one block along the bottom row that had the sashing on 4 sides. If you look closely you can spot it. Above it are the blocks being sewn together for the other rows. You can see how the outside (or right side) blocks have sashing added.

I'm still keeping them in stacks so I don't confuse myself. I still want the seams to lock together.

This is as far as I got in one afternoon of working on this. The rest is just a matter of sewing all the blocks together into rows.... then the rows together.

I do hope the information helps anyone struggling to add sashing to their quilts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Me projects

I have a couple of finished quilts today. This one..... it's not really a Christmas rush quilt but I finished it anyway. This is the left side.

This is the right side. This is the first customer quilt that actually left off the embellishments until after its quilted. I try to get people to understand the doodads cause quilting problems when rolling the quilt up... or... when trying to quilt around them.

I know you probably can't see it but I did mittens in the border....

So here is what they looked like when auditioning the design.

I also finished this me quilt. Left side...

Right side.....

I was just playing around with color threads and different designs.

This is the back so you can get a better look at the thread color changes.

And another view of the back..... gee, look at all the tension issues in there... ok, it's a me quilt.... tension is not an issue to be picked out on this one.

Auditioning quilting designs

Short post as I continue to clear up some ME quilts.

Many quilters use different ways to audition quilting designs before marking or stitching on the quilt. Some use clear erasable acetate or white boards. I prefer to use wax paper. I buy it in large quantities like this.....

It's clear enough I can see the fabric below it..... but opaque enough I don't accidentally run off the edge of the paper onto the quilt top. I use dry erase markers for the drawing and....

I can fold up the paper..... with the design I actually use.... and file it with my copy of the intake sheet. If in the future the customer says they want the same design I used before..... I can look it up in the files.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I'm back

I was without internet for three or four days. It was an att problem of some kind. It took some phone calls to tech support to get it back.

All the customer Christmas quilts are finished. All my quilts as gifts are finished.... time for reorganizing. Yea!! But wait.... I still want to enjoy the holidays. I'll not push myself too much on the cleaning and just enjoy the season for a few days. Maybe I will think about items to buy at the after Christmas sales and start making a list.

On another subject....

I've decided to NEVER buy anything from Hancock fabric ever again.! I won't go into details but over the weekend I had an experience at one of the stores that I do not want to repeat in the future! It looks like a company.... struggling to keep from closing all its stores..... would care more about how the clerks treat the paying customers.

Geeze..... that place clearly needs secret shoppers to report to the headquarters! It felt as if the clerks really didn't want to sell anything. Like they were deliberately trying to get customers upset enough not to buy. I couldn't help but wonder if the clerks realized their attitude would eventually get their store closed and put themselves out of a job?

They don't have to worry about me buying from there again. It won't matter to me if ALL the Hancock stores close. Hmmm.... I wish I knew the email address of the main headquarters.... I'm curious if they have a different attitude there.... if a customer complained?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Explaining the quilt kit logic

I thought I would elaborate a little more about my thinking process when creating my quilt kit idea......

I would love the luxury of having my stash look like this all the time.... (all double folded and ready to be cut)

Unfortunately, it often looks like this....

What happens? Well, the donated fabrics come to me in things like this.... (neckties)

Or this.... (a box is under there somewhere)

Or like this.... (great fabric for backs and some upholstery fabric samples)

Or this.... (left over t-shirt backs I want to use for rugs)

Professional quilting is a deadline driven business. I work on the deadlines given me by the customers. Having many deadlines to meet.... I don't always have time to stop and sort fabrics at the moment they are given to me. I have to set it aside..... in the container it arrives in.... until I can sort through it later to put into a more logical order. Over the course of a year, the containers continue to arrive..... pile up.... to eventually take over my stash room.

The quilt kits are:

(1) donated UFOs somebody couldn't finish
(2) quilts a family member asks me to make
(3) charity quilts I plan to make from my own stash
(4) contest quilts I hope to finish in time
(5) art quilts for various charity organizations
(6) a pattern I see somewhere that intrigued me

I use the time between the end of the Christmas rush and the start of the new year as me time to sort and decide what fabric will eventually be made into what quilt in the coming year. I'm taking what is piled and bunched up clutter.... to create an organized clutter. My logic is.... if it must stay in my stash room as clutter..... then at least all the pieces for each quilt are in one bag instead of scattered in different places throughout the room. What is not put into a kit gets put into my stash for easy access.... until it piles up again.

Granted... some of the kits won't become quilts this year or maybe even the next. I already have 75 kits in there. Its not possible for me to do them all in one year plus all the commission work I will get. BUT... when I do pull out a kit I don't have to ask myself.... what was I thinking when I put these fabric together in the bag. The pattern or idea sheet will be there too.

Creating kits doesn't stifle my creativity. I do start new quilts through the year. I can shop my stash or the LQS for just the right fabrics. I don't always find all the right fabrics in one store during one trip. I will have an idea, draw out the design... then start gathering the fabrics.... over a few weeks or months... each time I shop.

When I start gathering fabrics for my next quilt idea.... it will become a kit. Why? Well it goes back to an art quilt I began creating in September 2006. A quilt I've been working on for the past year. In October of 2007 I finished the center of the quilt..... went to get the border fabric..... eee gad..... I realized I had cut up and used the border fabric in a different quilt. I started a search for a replacement couple of yards to finish my quilt. The fabric is no where to be found.... anywhere. I've had customers check quilt shops all around the country on their vacations...... no luck. I searched dozens of on line sites for quilt shops, lost fabric, etc...... no luck.

I don't want this to happen again. From now on... when I buy fabric for a quilt... it goes into a quilt kit until the whole thing is finished... then it will go into my stash.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A new year about to begin....

Today's finished quilt. A small one that I said I would do IF I could. Well I found I could.

Its hard to see in the flowered part but it has a leaf design.

I've been getting ready for my daughter's baby shower this weekend. There is snow and rain and sleet in the forecast. I hope everyone shows up in spite of the weather.

I've been working but it feels like I'm moving at a snails pace the last couple of days. It's just the.... after the rush... the body catches up..... thing going on. Today there are some custom made quilt orders coming in for the new year. It will probably be 6 or more from clothing. The Christmas rush is barely over and it starts all over. (smile) I like knowing my income is steady.

Ok, short post today..... I want to finish up a custom quilt to get it out of the way before next week. Next week is a time for family and fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mother Nature is confused

Today's finished quilt. It didn't have to be finished until after Christmas. I had some time while waiting on a new customer so I thought I would work on it. I didn't want to be organizing in the back part of the house and not hear her knock. The customer didn't show up.

I put a kind of flower on the outside border.

Cross hatching on the inside border.

And a form of line dancing and flower petals in the blocks. This is a view from the back which shows the stitching better.

While the people out west were shivering and trying to stay safe.....Mother nature has become confused here. The weather was so warm that the wild chives (not onions) decided to shoot up. These are actually from some chives I had growing in a pot on the porch. I let them go to seed and the wind blew some seeds into the yard.

Even the dandelions and bees got fooled.

I hope all those in the grip of the ice storms are staying home and staying safe.