Ten More Days…

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crosslabel

Only 2 labels are left to be sewn on: Topsy Turvy Nine Patches (which also needs to be laundered) and DnA3 (which needs the binding and some other finishing work.)

I just noticed a couple of days ago that I had only a dozen more days to prep for my member showcase at my Guild.

As luck (and total obsession) would have it, I am well on the way to completing what I need to finish before then. At least the snow has been good for keeping me inside and chipping away at the list.

As long as there is some day in the next ten that I can get to the laundromat, I should be okay.

The binding is sewn on DnA3 and I am doing the hand-stitching.  I know I should be burying the threads before doing the binding, but at least progress is being made.

This Meezer Teaser ball has bells inside it.

This Meezer Teaser ball has bells inside it.

I only need 9 more Meezer Teaser balls for the next shipment to The Siamese Cat Rescue Center’s store. These are turning out really nicely, and I have figured out a way to get bells and rattles inside some of them.

My Mom has decided to contribute some pre-cuts to the cause.  Not sure what she’s sending, but I love fabric, and even random old calicoes look great in 3D!

I would like to think that I’m more than half-way done with the border to A Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins.

I would like to, but I really don’t know if I am… still plodding along there. Will I ever be done?  Stay tuned!

Rumi is helping with quilt organization...

Rumi is helping with quilt organization…

This weekend, my plan is to line my quilts up in order for the speech and make index cards with what I want to talk about for each one.  No doubt when I get up in front of people I will totally forget that I have these cards (or how to read) and I will just wing it (or babble), but I want to give myself a fighting chance.

Since they’re calling for another foot of snow, there’s not much else for me to do anyway… except for playing Fetch with the cats.

 

To Do List

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DnA3

DnA3 (or is it 4) is ready for binding. The trick was finding something that looked good on front, but didn’t cause the pieced back to look bad.

Just a short post this week as I clear the decks for… well, I don’t know what since we’re supposed to have another multi-day snowstorm.

1. Binding for DnA3.  Thanks to Cricket, I now have enough purply-pink wisteria fabric to bind this quilt.  It took a long time to decide what to do with it since the original plan was to use black.

I still have to bury the threads in the center of this quilt.  It’s a good thing we’ll be snowed in for the weekend, I guess.  I think I’ll cue up Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth…

deflategate

My own version of “Deflate-Gate.” The original Meezer Teaser Balls sold out at The Siamese Store. These are waiting for catnip and filling so they can be shipped off. (Yes, I’m accepting scraps for this project.)

2. Binding for Spirographology. Freshly ripped off the long arm (no, not literally) I have a couple of options for this one.  I bought a multi-color batik with a black background, or I could use the black binding I previously cut out for DnA3.

I loved the Dream Puff batting for this quilt. It gave some dimension to the quilting that the cotton batting I had been using on the other quilts didn’t.

The big problem, though, was that Spiro is a hexagon quilt and I ended up having to shepherd some of the extra puffiness towards the center to keep it square. In a hand-quilted quilt this is not a problem, but I didn’t notice until the end, so I ended up more fullness toward the bottom and with some tucks on the quilt top.  I’m contemplating requilting those areas, but not until much later.

I think I may be more than half-way done with the border for the Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins quilt.

I think I may be more than half-way done with the border for the Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins quilt.

3. Meezer Teaser Balls.  Thanks to the kitty moms who follow the Siamese Cat Rescue Center on Facebook, the original shipment of the balls sold out in less than a week. I’m hard at work making more, but might not get them done and out until the end of the month.

4. Labels.  I now have all the quilts finished so I need to set and wash the labels, and, of course, sew them on.

5. Still plodding along on the paper-pieced border for my Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins.  I know I was trying to use up fabric from my stash with this project, but I ended up having to buy more of the top red fabric… and what do you know, some other pieces of fabric also jumped into my bag.

That’s my top 5 projects for now. What are you up to?

Hmm. This post is a bit longer than I had originally planned!

Spinning My Wheels

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My car was here...

My car was here…

We had a mighty snow this past week.  Our town got 31″, but it was light and fluffy.  Instead of shoveling, I just cleared off my car and drove out of it.

I wish I could do that with other areas of my life, but dry snow has so much more traction than some of the other things I’m up to.

First off, Drop and Give Me 20 starts tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is a whole new month, and you can re-dedicate yourself to spending a little time with your quilting projects… as I am going to.

I have been spinning my wheels trying to get my head around this quilt talk thing when I really should be looking at it as just a show-and-tell. I guess I’ve been making additional work for myself because of it.

I don’t usually put labels on my quilts unless they are going out of my apartment so for this talk I had to make at least 12-15 labels, which was daunting. Instead of hand printing the labels, I borrowed a friend’s Bubble Jet Set and grabbed some free clip art from the web, added my information in Photoshop and ta-da… all I have left to do is sew them on.

It was so easy and fun, I may make up a tutorial (but don’t hold your breath!)

Speaking of tutorials… I was supposed to discuss using pre-cut fabrics to make V is for Victory.

How many and which pre-cuts you use depends on how scrappy you want the quilt. This chart is JUST for the color Vs, and for the size shown in my last post.

Pre-Cut Number (per pre-cut) How Many For Quilt fabric leftover (each)
5″ square (charm) 1 270 2.5″ square plus 0.5” x 2.5”
2.5″ strip 6 (cut 2.5″x7″ per block) 45 2.5×2″ (assuming 44″ WOF)
10″ square (layer cake) 5 3″ square plus 0.5” x 7” 114
18″x 22″ (Fat Quarter) 21 0.5” x 22” x 18 x 1” 13
Yardage 3.125yds x 44″ 270  1

If you go with some of the larger pre-cuts like fat quarters, or layer cakes, perhaps you can get a group together to make the quilt and trade fabric.

I’ll reserve discussion about the background and “on-point” triangles for another post.

V is for Victory

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V is for Victory

I’m calling this quilt V is for Victory, but, in truth, I don’t know who made it or where it’s from.

Those of you who are connected to me on Facebook, or who have been looking at the Chelmsford Quilters’ Guild page there, know that a friend of mine posted the photo of a quilt she really liked and wanted to know how to make it.

It’s actually a very easy block, complicated only by an “on point” setting, and, if you like it scrappy, you can use 5″ charm squares or 2.5″ strips, or even the 10″ layer cake squares that Cricket and I run the raffle for at the Guild meetings.

For those of you who have been quilting a while, I suspect you see right away that this block is the start of a Log Cabin block using 2″ finished blocks/strips.

You only need three pieces for this block: two of the same fabric and one background.

You only need three pieces for this block: two of the same fabric and one background.

For those of you who didn’t see that right away, I’ll lay it out for you:

Each block contains 3 pieces: 2 2.5″ squares and one 2.5 “x 4.5″ rectangle. There are 270 blocks in the quilt as shown. (There is also no reason to be intimidated by the task of making so many blocks. Just make as many as you want, and your quilt will be either smaller or larger.)

First you will need to choose a background fabric.  In the first photo, the background fabric is a solid black.  For my test shots, I used white on white leftovers. You only need one 2.5″ square of your background fabric per block.

DSC03967In fact, I used only scraps. I have quite a few scraps which I really should give away, but I can’t seem to part with since, well, it’s fabric.

For the scrap fabric you will need one 2.5″ square and one 2.5″ x 4.5″ rectangle (in a future post I’ll talk about how to cut this block from pre-cuts and how many you will get and what you will have left over.)

From there you only need to sew 2 seams:

  1. Put the two 2.5″ squares together and sew a quarter-inch seam on one side.
    I usually press after this step, but it doesn’t particularly matter which side you press your seams to, or even if you press them open.  All have their merits.
  2. Sew the unit you put together in the last step to the remaining rectangle.
    If you have sewn your seam “correctly” at 1/4″, the two pieces should line up exactly.  If you haven’t, don’t bother trimming until after you sew the long seam, just center the short seam to the long side of the rectangle and sew.
    Again, I press after this step.
I don't usually trim until I have several blocks finished.  That way, if I'm off in my seam allowance, I can trim all the blocks to the same size.

I don’t usually trim until I have several blocks finished. That way, if I’m off in my seam allowance, I can trim all the blocks to the same size.

And that’s one block! You only have 269 more to go!

This is a great quilt to chain piece.  I would probably line up at least 10 blocks to sew step one, and then another 10 blocks to sew step 2. That way I would only need to cut out/set up 10 blocks out each day, and I’d finish 10 blocks each day.

So, there you have it, Pat.  That’s how to make the block.  I’ll talk about cutting and setting in another post.

In other news: I’ve finished Meezer Teaser Ball #25, and now that I have approval of the wording on the tags, all I have to do is print them out, put them on and ship the whole kit and caboodle to the SCRC.

I’ll let you know how much they’ll end up charging and when they go on sale when I know myself.

I have decided not to stress myself and finish 2 more quilts before my babble in February. I am now hoping just to finish Spirographology. That should take some of the stress off since I will have three bindings (two I’ve been putting off to play with Meezer Teaser Balls), and the label project.

MEHborderI also started the border for A Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins. I kind of like it even though I’m not really a fan of paper piecing.

 

First Quarter of 2015

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The Meezer Teaser Project grows!

The Meezer Teaser Project grows!

Rather than make resolutions for 2015, I’ve decided to simply keep on with my “to do” list and look over my accomplishments for the past year.

My first really good idea for the year, actually started last year.  I’m working on the Meezer Teaser balls for the Siamese Cat Rescue Society in VA. I’ve put on my “to do” list to make 25 of them by mid-January so they can start testing the waters. I’m up to 23, so I should make it.

Next up, I’m scheduled to talk at the Member showcase at my Guild in February. I have been working on showing more finished quilts than tops, and I have finished 13 projects last year, so my “show” will have actual quilts outnumbering tops.  I am hoping to get 2 more quilted (and finishing two that are quilted that just need binding.)

If you are in northeastern MA/southern NH the area, please feel free to join us. The odds are currently 4 to 1 that I will spend some portion of the presentation babbling. (Seriously, if you want more details, email me.)

BorderPalooza continues with "A Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins

BorderPalooza continues with “A Tribute to Mary Ellen Hopkins”

My biggest promise to myself is to schedule time with my friend Valerie. We have been on different schedules for so long, I barely remember what she looks like, and I promised I’d help her make a Double Wedding Ring quilt.

I’m also going to continue BorderPalooza since I’m so close to having all my tops that have the center done, but still need borders.

I finally figured out how to save stuff in PDF and how to print from my laptop in EQ7, so I expect some of the ideas I’ve noodled with will be turned into quilts.

The biggest use I’ve made of it for the past month has been trying out borders for the BorderPalooza quilts, of which there are only two left!)

This will leave me with 5 projects which need more work, and 15 tops which only need to be quilted and bound. Yeah, I guess I can start something else…

Also, I plan to return to writing.  I guess I got a little burned out on NaNoWriMo this year and I found myself forcing myself to write. All the joy had fled.  I took a couple of weeks off (well, three) and now I’m back (I hope) both creatively and technically.

This means, of course, that I will be posting tutorials here (next up how to rotary cut pentagons… probably in a couple of weeks… and the V is for Victory quilt for Pat.)

Sorry so few pictures this time!

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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Rumi is fast becoming an integral part of the family... though mostly in an advisory role.

Rumi is fast becoming an integral part of the family… though mostly in an advisory role.

I finally got all the furniture back in the living area (from my bedroom) and all of the boxes unpacked after the flood.  The reason it took so long was I was trying to get rid of some of my stuff, and I did get give away quite a few books.

More are still to go, though, including about 3/4 of my “library” of flying books. I miss flying, but it’s unlikely I’ll be able to afford to return to it more than occasionally any time soon, and I figured I’d be better served searching for what I need to know online. It’s sad to give up the hope of getting my instrument rating, but it’s kind of cool to be able to say “I’m a pilot” even though I don’t fly anymore except as a passenger.

Yesterday was my Guild Holiday party and I’m in a pensive mood.

I got to talk to people I haven’t seen in a while, and it was announced that I’m featured in the “Member Showcase” in February.

Now, I haven’t been quiet about the Member Showcase.  I didn’t know it was a secret, but I was still gratified that people applauded and looked happy that I was scheduled to do it.

Now to get serious and work on my list of quilts.

Chrissy and I share an "unfortunate" addiction to all things "Hello Kitty."

Chrissy and I share an “unfortunate” addiction to all things “Hello Kitty.”

I didn’t get to talk much to my friends Chrissy and Susan, whom I rarely actually see but keep up with on Facebook. It was nice to touch base and see them looking happy and well. With all our allergies and sensitivities, we swap recipes and try to work out how to make them so we can eat them.

I had recommended Chrissy to work with a friend of mine this fall, and she actually got the job. This is not surprising since she’s smart, dedicated and a hard worker (like most of my friends), but more because I seldom get to recommend my friends to my other friends because the skill sets never seem to line up.

I think I was almost more thrilled than she was when she got hired!

The first five prototypes of the Meezer Teaser Balls.

The first five of the Meezer Teaser Balls.

I’ve planned a fund-raising project for the Siamese Cat Rescue Center (who gave us Rumi) for the next year.  I’ll be trying to make at least one puzzle ball a week to be sold for make some money for their operating costs.

As of now, I’m calling them “Meezer Teaser Balls” because “Rumi’s Balls” was considered… er… a bit too… risqué. I just finished the sixth last night.

I’m using scraps from wherever I get them and polyester fiberfill (and thick poly batting scraps which I cut up to use with the fiberfill, since it’s free and I’m not using it for anything else.)  I had wanted to make some using flannel, but I don’t quilt with flannel, so I have no flannel scraps.

I’ve adapted some of the puzzle balls from Jinny Beyer’s book. (the triangle balls are slightly bigger, and most of the other balls have been reduced in size.) Which reminds me, I should probably get official permission to make these balls for this purpose…

My next big quilting project is to put labels on the quilts which were (or will be) finished for my talk in February using Bubble Jet Set.

Oh, and writing up the “V for Victory” quilt instructions.  Would you like to see them here?

As for holidays, Happy Hanukkah (with or without the C or the double n or only one k or however you spell it in English). I hope you enjoy your Christmas, Kwanzaa, and all other winter holidays you celebrate, and I hope to write again before the New Year.

Holiday Lead-Up

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Photo on 11-13-14 at 4.14 PM

A new DNA quilt finally goes on the long arm. (This is the one with the pieced back, which is finally the correct size.)

Rather than complain about the Christmas decorations (most put up after Halloween, thank goodness!) I’ve decided to embrace the whole deal.

Now, of course, this does not mean I’ll be leaving the Thanksgiving table to go to the mall (or waking up at O-dark-thirty to get “deals.) It just means I’ve decided not to be grumpy about it… for today at least.

I mean, shiny tinsel and evergreen boughs are pretty! Be happy! Don’t Worry!

I think I can stay like this until I have to pick up my prescriptions from Walmart.

So in my (probably temporary) un-grumpy state, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks.

First of all, I have been writing.  I still think it’s dreck and will ultimately be unpublishable, but the novel has made some twists and turns that have surprised even me. I’m about 80% of the way through November’s word count and will hopefully be able to have it “validated” for NaNoWriMo before the end of the month.

What I learned is that I need a bit more structure when starting. I took out an old outline, but I hadn’t re-acquainted myself with the plot or characters before the beginning of November, and the story has veered WAY off course. I have no idea how it’s going to end (or if.)

Note to self: more prep for NaNoWriMo next year.

Most of the pictures I've taken lately have been of the cats. Here's Rumi

Most of the pictures I’ve taken lately have been of the cats. Here’s Rumi

Number two on the hit list is: dealing with cats.  I know I posted a picture of Rumi when I got him, but we’re still in the “getting acquainted” stage with Miko, so some hissing and growling accompanies my daily writing. No cats have been harmed in the making of this…. well you get the picture.

In terms of quilting, I finally got DnA4 (or is it 3) on the long arm. I programmed the machine and the first border went swimmingly.

Unfortunately, it all went down hill from there. I forgot to change the thread for the “inside” and then, last week, I wasn’t able to work on it at all.

rockin10

I am co-running (is that a word?) a 10″ block “raffle” for my Guild with my friend Cricket.

This coming week, being American Thanksgiving, will also be a no-LA week, so it will taken longer than a month for me to finish it (probably even two.)

I still can’t get to my quilting supplies, so I am knitting instead.  I have the body, tail, one paw, and two ears of the Siamese kitty toy I’m knitting for my friend Kris.  Oh, and half of the head. I would knit a lot faster if I actually sat down and did it.

Finally, I am almost done with the book shelves after the flood. We have three empty shelves (out of 20) and some only partially filled.  I am beginning to move books from other areas to “fill the gaps” and, at the same time, go through those.) I hope to move the sofa back to its original position some time this week.

When I do, I can finally move the excess furniture from my bedroom and get quilting again!

Fun Times

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livingroom

So what have I been up to in my missing couple of weeks? Well… there in lies a tale (and at least a couple of tails.)

First of all, I woke up the morning of October 23rd to find half of the front room of my apartment flooded.  The drains had not drained and, having been asleep, I hadn’t bailed.

I needed to pack up my my bookcases and my china cabinet. Bear in mind, by bookcases run the length of my apartment, and my “china cabinet” is three separate units, the center one housing my TV, etc.

So, as I sat around with various maintenance guys moaning about how much stuff I had, and how dare I garden on my porch (because, obviously the dirt from replanting pots was so much more responsible for clogging the drain, than the times that they trimmed the hedges (and didn’t sweep) or strip the paint on the upstairs porches (which fluttered down to my ground level apartment… which they didn’t sweep)… well, you get the picture.

An exhausted Rumi returns from exploring the main room.

An exhausted Rumi (not to be confused with Rumor) returns from exploring the main room.

During all this, I adopted an “annoying kitty companion” for Miko.  His name is Rumi.

I had hoped to have the Siamese Rescue people hold onto him for a few days while we got our apartment back in order, but, no, he had to come to his “forever home” in a total state of chaos.

And so we have remained.

We finally dried out and now Miko met her match. They both prefer to believe the other doesn’t exist, so even though doors are open, there is almost no interaction (unless you call Miko trying to eat Rumi’s food, which she shouldn’t have.)

I haven’t done any quilting since.  Quite frankly, my sewing machine is unreachable.  Actually, my bed is almost unreachable since I have been storing most of the furniture from the front room in my bedroom.

PiecedBackI thought I was going to be okay, though. Before this disaster happened, I had pieced together the backing for the next quilt I wanted to quilt on the long arm.

I went today and put it on, only to find out that my top was 2″ wider than my back.  I guess I’d better go back to measuring school… and find some fabric to add to the edges for next week.

You may also notice the widget on the left column. Yes, I am participating in NaNoWriMo again. I have gotten off to a rocky start in that I don’t have a clear idea of my main character, and pretty much everything that I’ve written so far is description and world-building that will end up on the cutting room floor.

Still, I have a better idea of what she’s about after 6 days of writing, and some of the other characters are coming into focus, so maybe I will be able to save the story after all.

I still live in the hope that I will return to weekly blogging about quilting.  We all must have our dreams…

Project Gap

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The first of the DnA quilts to be quilted is, of course, the last one  to be made: DnA4: In Memory of Edison.

The first of the DnA quilts to be quilted is, of course, the last one to be made: DnA4: In Memory of Edison.

I haven’t been feeling very creative (quilting-wise) lately.  I have been finishing stuff, just haven’t been able to think of a new project to start. It’s been like that since I came back from Pittsburgh.

I have been quilting, however. I finally finished the last of the Dragonfly Path quilt tops. It was like pulling teeth at the end. I don’t know what I was thinking of when I volunteered to make THREE Drunkard’s Path quilt tops, one right after another. (And, yes, there still in a fourth one in the pipeline, but I just don’t have the strength at the moment…)

I was so glad to see the end of the Dragonfly Fabic, I didn't even snap a photo of the finished top!

I was so glad to see the end of the Dragonfly fabric, I didn’t even snap a photo of the finished top! This is the layout in progress.

New case for my new laptop. (Now I know why people buy these things!)

New case for my new laptop. (Now I know why people buy these things!)

I couldn’t figure out what next to do, though, so I made a laptop case for my new MacBook Air. (I got this new computer so I could have all my writing software on it and write wherever I was, especially when I was out of town, or needed someone else to make coffee for me. Worked great at Mom’s house, where I got both at the same time.)

Anyway, I learned lots in making this piece, most important of all is: it’s really worth paying someone else to make the next one!

Between the zippers and the piping and the doubled batting (to cushion the little Mac from life’s many bumps), my lack of a working walking foot (long story) the only real surprise to me was that I finished it. As you can see, it’s string-pieced on a foundation. You may notice some fabric from my other projects, including the yellow plaid from Les Filles des Mares. the iridescent dragonflies, from THAT project (above), and, of course, the obligatory Hello Kitty fabric.

Doesn't look like much now, but this is part of the pieced back of DnA3, which I'll be quilting next.

Doesn’t look like much now, but this is part of the pieced back of DnA3: In Memory of Rumor, which I’ll be quilting next.

At least two of the strips are backing fabric from some recently completed quilts. In fact, the third strip down is the back of the quilt I have on the long arm at the moment.

The last of my “filler” projects is the backing for the next DnA quilt: DnA3: In Memory of Rumor. It’s pieced from all the cat fabrics I have left… and I still didn’t use everything up. My now much-more- rationally-sized stash of cat fabric includes two 1 yard pieces and less than half a dozen FQs of cat fabric. (So don’t send me anymore for my birthday!  Send airplane fabric instead :) )

I, of course, am trying not to go out and buy new fabric in the hopes that inspiration will hit again. I think until I find a block or vintage quilt that inspires me, I will simply go back to Borderpalooza.  I think there are 2 or 3 more than can be finished this year.

Pittsburgh Album

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EL-shipI have been plugging away at the last drunkards path/fairy frost quilt.  It’s kind of been putting me to sleep, so I haven’t been posting.

Another reason I haven’t been posting is that I went to visit my Mom and snuck into her studio to photograph her in-progress (has been for quite a few years) Baltimore Album-style quilt she calls Pittsburgh Album.

I believe she expects it to be 25 blocks in all, but she keeps making them and then saying others are not good enough.  Sound familiar?  I guess that’s where I get it from! Anyway, here’s some blocks from Mom’s Pittsburgh Album: EL-amish El-corn El-vase1 EL-vase2 EL-wreathAnd here’s something I did that was nestled in Mom’s blocks: AL-bwstrip   I hear some people’s moms save their kindergarten refrigerator art… oh gosh, do you think she saved that, too??!

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