Monday, December 31, 2012

SMART UFO quilting goals for 2013

Something social workers pick up early in their careers is the notion of making SMART goals.  To make SMART Quilting goals, there are a few things that I will bear in mind.

Specific:1 should provide enough detail so that there is no indecision as to what exactly you should be doing when the time comes to do it. 

Measurable: the goal should be such that when you are through you have some tangible evidence of completion.

Attainable: this is about 'how' - do you have the skills, knowledge, financial or material resources, the time?

Realistic: don't plan to do things if you are unlikely to follow through. Better to plan only a few things and be successful rather than many things and be unsuccessful. Success breeds success! Start small, with what you can do, experience the joys of meeting your goal

Time-bound: Say when you plan to work at your goal, and break into smaller, more manageable chunks.

So here are my goals for January:

1. catch up, and maintain completion (within one week of posting) of Grandmother's Choice BOWs for a total of 3 blocks from December, and 4 from January. I have lots of fabric for this project, and I usually do the block first thing Saturday morning before Hubby gets out of bed.

2. Dear Jane -  I will complete 2 blocks (each month).  Again, I have plenty of fabric for this project, and I have found all my supplies: pattern, software, rulers.

3. School of Rock quilt - starting off the year slow - this quilt is sooooooooo close to finished.  I will complete the quilting on my domestic machine, prepare and apply binding, and complete.

4. Bookmarks - I will complete all of these, and donate them to Action Read before the end of the month. These are such simple finishes, I will work on one or two during my lunch hours.

5. Mug Mats - hand stitch binding down to finish.  I will give them to co-workers. I will work on while watching TV.

6. I will go to the public library and borrow books featuring quilt borders, and make a decision about how to finish Black & White, Tulip Appliqué, and Virginia Bound, sketching out a few ideas. I will also borrow Sylvia's Bridal Sampler, and make a decision about block setting.

7.  I will organize my sewing notions, sorting by type, gifting anything that I won't use, throwing out broken items, and choose an appropriate storage system. (maybe even ask my Hubby for a new sewing box for my birthday on the 22nd of January). 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sharpening Up!

With all of the clean up I've been doing recently, I soon realized my rotary cutter blade was getting dull.  When changing the blade, I began to wonder: how do I know I'm doing this right?  Which side up does the "bendy" washer go, and does it matter?

Ah, the internet is a wonderful thing!  I have used the same 28mm Olfa cutter for over 20 years (though I have tried--and indeed own--a 45mm Fiskars - just don't like it - and see no reason to change tools after all these loyal years) so there is no way I remember how it came out of the package.  Here's a video!

By the way - there are some pretty cute projects on the Olfa website! Here's a link.  Be sure to scan through the different classes of project in the left hand sidebar - there's quite a variety.

Is there anything quite as pleasing as the feel of a fresh blade?

I then realized that all of the paper foundation piecing I've been doing recently has certainly dulled my needle. In fact, it was so bad, that when sewing my HSTs, the triangle tips were being pushed down into the the throat plate into the bobbin case with the first stitch, instead of being stabbed through with the needle.  Talk about annoying!  Time to change the needle!  I'm not particular about the needles I use - generally just pick up whatever I see, when I need them.  However, I currently have Fons & Porter needles which work nicely.  

I'm now wondering: is there a brand or type of needle that other quilters prefer?

Now...what's going on with my favourite scissors to cut chain piecing threads?  I have Fiskars Cutter Bee Scissors, which I love - mostly for the size, and the great blade cover.  In fact, I have two pair, I like them so much!  But the blades towards the tip were dull, and I am finding that I can't quickly snip the threads anymore; I have to cut with the deeper area of the blades, which takes longer (if the makes any sense).  

This has me wondering: what does the world wide web have to say about sharpening my Cutter Bees?  Well, one product reviewer recommends this product - Fiskars SewSharp Scissors Sharpener. I tried checking the Michaels website to see if this is something the local store carries, but I found the search function difficult to navigate.  I'll just have to take a shot and keep my eyes open.  As long as it is relatively inexpensive, it will be worth buying the sharpener rather than new scissors.

I think my next task--before embarking on "UFOs Only 2013" is to give my sewing machine a thorough cleaning and oiling.  I feel like poor old Lucy is going to be getting quite a work out in the near future!

The Last (at last!) of the Left-overs

Itty Bitty helped me put together a pot of turkey stew - the holidays must soon be over!

Actually, I'm planning on spending a little time at the office tomorrow getting a couple of things organized there, so I can start 2013 ahead of the game.  But I'm not actually expected to be back until Wednesday morning.  

I've had the best break!  I should have been more mindful, or perhaps intentional about the purpose of my mini-sabbatical - - but I was having too much fun!  It wasn't until last night that I realized that for the last week and a half, I have not been responsible for anyone's well-being but my own.  I've taken a holiday from caring.  I feel rejuvenated! rested! ready! I've taken care of me - - so I can take care others.

No big New Years Eve plans here.  Itty Bitty has gone back to school for a couple of days to ring in 2013 with friends (he left tonight to go to a concert).  I probably won't even see midnight!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I went looking for my freezer paper...

...and found a Rubbermaid Tote full of UFOs!!!!  What the..????

I swore I had put my hands on every single thing sewing room related over the past three days.  Today, it was time to do some sewing, so I went looking for my freezer paper.  I know I had some somewhere....seems I just bought some not too long ago.  But where could it be?  

I had Itty Bitty look under the bed; look under the cabinet.  That only left the closet where we store out of season clothes, suitcases, and guitar cases.  I knew there was a box that held my knitting and crochet supplies and books in there, so I took a peek, just in case I stuffed it in there.  OMG!!!!!!!

It is full to the brim with quilt tops, waiting, for many years, to be finished.

I don't even know the names of some of these, when I made them, or what my intentions were.  But here goes...

I hand appliquéd each of the different tulip blocks.  I can't remember the book it came from, but the large shapes and easy curves were a joy.  I still have lots of yellow and blue prints left over from this project, and I'm thinking I'd like to add some more borders to this, since it has just way too much work in it to be a throw sized quilt.  It needs to become a bed size.  Any ideas?.  I wish I had some more of the background though - -  it is a pale yellow toile print on white - very pretty.  I'm pretty pleased with the sashing I did on this.

This bad boy is HUGE!  Every fabric is different, and it's all scraps.  I have no intention of finishing it.  I wonder if my sister likes it?  It's got to have ample pillow tuck and drop - it is monstrous - I suppose each block finishes at 12", so - a few simple calculations.....aaaaaand....yup.  Just as I suspected.  It's a big 'un.

I worked hard on this tesselated autumn leaf quilt top.  Each leaf, even the background, is a different fabric.  It took a long time to put this together, because they had to be pieced together very carefully to ensure the right fabrics ended up where they were supposed to be.  

Oh wow!  Was this a Bonnie Hunter quilt?  I remember that the pinwheels in the border were bonus triangles.  I kept enough of the bright blue first border fabric for binding - it's all cut and waiting to go!  I still like this one, with all the bright prints.  Not my typical palette, but I really enjoyed looking at all the different scrappy prints today.  I must have gotten desperate at one point, because there is a pink 30's repro in there.

This was a Border-of-the-Month quilt.  I can't remember what website it came from.  My focus fabric (the red) was a Mary Engelbreit print of little girls sewing and notions.  I believe this is probably the youngest of the UFO's, because I actually remember sewing this on the west side of the basement - the rest were made when my sewing studio was on the east.  Funny remembering that, eh?

This is Egg Money designed by Eleanor Burns.  I put the big wide border on it in order to scallop the edge.  I think that's out of the question now.  I don't have the book anymore - at least I don't think I do - so I don't have the instructions.  That kind of math is just waaaay too difficult for me.  I kept plenty of binding fabric for it, but it's not bias cut, so it wouldn't be any good for binding scallops anyway!  I wanted to hand quilt this one -- maybe some Baptist Fans in the border?  Hmm...we'll see.

Know what?  Never did find my freezer paper.  I sent Itty Bitty to the grocery store, and he picked me up a huge 50' roll, 18" wide for about $6.  Holy moley!  And I've been buying it by the yard at the quilt store!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

I'm Making Some Progress

I spent allllllll day with my stash!

All of my yardage is now wrapped onto comic book storage boards à la Smashed Peas and Carrots, and arranged by colour in this cabinet.  The boxes above and below represent some UFOs, PIGs, and WIPs that I wrangled today - - now I have a very good sense of what is lurking in the deep crevices of my so-called sewing room.

There is still work to be done -- I have a cardboard box full of uglies that I have to make a decision about - - whether to cut up for strings, toss, or give away.  I still have a great deal of FQs and smaller pieces that may qualify for the ugly pile too - but I need to have a clearer head to process through them.  There is still space in the bottom right hand shelf of my cabinet for neatly folded FQs.

I have another cardboard box full of fabric that is definitely going.  My sister can expect this to be dropped off next time one of us make a trip to St. T.

I also need to go through all of my notions, and put them in some semblance of order.  Right now, they are all over Itty Bitty's bed!

Yes, it was a very good day indeed.  I feel like I really accomplished some stuff.

UFOs, WIPs, PIGs - Part One

Black & White has been in a box since March 2010 – It’s currently 70” square, too big for a lap quilt, and too small for a bed quilt.  I really enjoyed  working on this.  When I opened the box, I realized there is about $100 of brand new fabrics – black on white, and white on black – so I have plenty.  I think I’d like to add another narrow black border, and continue to add borders until it’s a decent queen sized quilt.  Do – some designing, some piecing, then sandwich, quilt, and bind.  Lots of work to do here!

Bookmarks I have 21 of them completed, and 10 to finish
These should be pretty quick.  But what to do with them?  I’ve been carrying these around December 2009!  There is a community literacy centre, where one of my colleagues does public legal education presentations.  I’ll send these with her for the clients at this agency

Plaid Obsession I have been obsessed with this quilt ever since I first saw it in the header of JulieKQuilts. I have been collecting plaids for a number of years now, I have a box of strings, I’ve copied the pattern from Evelyn Sloppy’s book which I borrowed from the library, and I plan to paper piece the blocks. 

Technically, I would have to say that this is not a UFO, but more on the side of PIG.  But I declare, it counts.
I stole the photo above from Mary at Hill Country Quilter (with her kind permission, of course).  I love it.  I want to do one with lots of reds in it.  I’d like to do a second one with all pastel coloured plaids too.  Loooove the idea of all that mindless sewing!

Shirt Stripe Boxes I started this quilt – the 2nd time making this quilt, having finished the first in April 2010 – in November 2011. This one will be 50% bigger than the first quilt. The blocks are done, and I’ve pieced one of six strips.  So – finish piecing, piece the back, sandwich, quilt, bind.
Here’s a photo of my first Shirt Strip boxes.


Oh! My Stars! I don’t remember when I started this – a couple of years ago anyway.  This looks like it could be a good “leader & ender” project to get the blocks and flying geese pieced.  I have 10 blocks done, of 64, and 0 of 184 Flying Geese units.  I will use recycled shirts for this, plaids and shirtings.  I’ve got a pale purple on white shirting that would be a great fit for this!  The pattern was in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Jan/Feb 1998.  This is a long term project.

Bunny Hill Basket of the Month This was a free BOM from Bunny Hill Designs.  You can buy the pattern nowIt started in January 2009, but I only completed 4 blocks.  I did have the foresight to print off all the patterns, and even printed the templates onto freezer paper!  Some pretty relaxing handwork here.  I think I got rid of all of my embroidery floss when we moved - - so I will have to make some purchases here to finish it off.  Finish the blocks, design a layout, piece, sandwich, and quilt - - I might even want to hand quilt it! and bind.

Simply Christmas Again – not started – it’s a PIG.  But the pattern was probably $20, the Layer Cake I bought to piece it was $42, and the Misty Fuse was $12.  That’s a pretty big investment to sit on a shelf.  Yes, we don’t “do” Christmas – but it could be a nice gift for someone, or maybe a silent auction item for some good cause.  Appliqué, piece, sandwich, quilt, bind.

Christmas Lights – a Quiltville Mystery The blocks are completed.  However, I don’t have the pattern to finish this – ugh!  I’ll look at the library and see if they have the Sept/Oct, and Nov/Dec ’09 issues of Quiltmaker Magazine!
I started this in June of 2009.  I don’t have any Christmas print fabrics in my stash, but I’m sure I can find something to finish it off.

Colonial Ladies I have six blocks done, and another six to go.  The pieces are vintage that I bought at a thrift store a number of years ago.  I don’t know if this is going on the UFO list - - I currently have no desire to work on this at all.  I’m not ready to get rid of them though, so they are in the keeper pile.

Cottage Basket Table Runner Appliqué, sandwich, quilt, bind.  I bought this as a kit at a quilt show in April 2010.  The pattern came from this book:

Baltimore Folk Fusion I increased the pattern by 200%, and started making these blocks with reproductions CWs.  I have four blocks done.   Appliqué, piece, sandwich, quilt, bind.  Not sure where my pattern book is though!  I’m sure I’m going to find it as I go through the stash.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden I’ve been working on this since May of 2012.  I now have 101 blocks finished.  I have a couple more to piece, as you can see - - but I don’t know what I’m going to do to finish the quilt.  I know hexies are HUGE right now.  I’m sure I’ll find some inspiration on the world wide web. By the way – the best hexie tutorial ever?  Right here 

Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler I started this in September 2007 when this was a BOW project.  The pattern has now been published in a book - - which I have seen in the public library.  I have 68 of the 140 blocks done.  I don’t intend to do all of the blocks at this point.  But perhaps I will have to piece a few more blocks to have enough to piece together a decent sized quilt.  Maybe another 4?  Or 12?  I’ll have to design a block setting, piece it, sandwich, quilt, and bind.  I’ll check out the book for some design inspiration.

The quilt represents the quilt that was created in Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilters novel “The Master Quilter”.  I’ve read all but one of Jennifer’s books – and I’m excited to see a new one is coming out next month!  “Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” 
Siggie Swap Blocks I don’t know how many I have here - - probably 100?  These siggies are based on the Dear Jane D-13Field of Dreams block.  I need to trim these up to size, design some sort of setting, piece, sandwich, quilt, and bind.  After I do a count, I’ll see if I need to swap any more.

Dear Jane We all know this quilt. Check out the pinterest board. I have 150 of the 225 blocks – I think it`s 225!  Most of the squares are done – it`s the kites and tris that are lagging.  This is a long term project.  I will need to find the software – I don`t have the computer that I had software installed on.  I have lots of pink and grey CW repros.  I am thinking that the best way to finish this is to challenge myself to a block a week.  Hmmm...I`ll have to find my DJ rulers too!

Buttons & Bows I started this in Feb `09.  I have a bit more of the embroidery done than is shown in the photo.  So – embroidery, embellishment, piece, sandwich, quilt, bind.  It`s not terribly large, but would make a very big wall hanging.  Some fun handwork to do here. It comes from a back issue of an Australian quilting magazine.

Cross Stitch pillows I bought two pieces of cross stitch on linen at yard sales in `09.  I would like to piece some pillows with them, and I have a box of Thimbleberries type fabrics that I`ve set aside to do this, and should be a nice fit with the colours in the stitchery, but that`s about as far as I`ve gotten.  Design, piece, maybe quilt, and finish.

Desired Quilt I started this quilt in Dec '09.  The pattern came from Piece & Quilt.  I have to finish the appliqué  blanket stitch around the pieces, sandwich, quilt, and bind.

Kimono Quilt I started this quilt in Aug '10 and have 30 blocks done, and a pretty good idea of how I want to set them. So, I have to trim them up, piece the top, sandwich, quilt and bind.  The pattern was a free download from HERE

Aunt Lizzie`s Scrap Bag - this is a fairly current UFO.  In fact it is still spread all over my ironing board and sewing table.  I've got more than half of the blocks done, but there is plenty of piecing left to do.


North of the Forty-Nine I fell in love with this quilt after seeing it hanging in a Quilt Shop. I remember having to order the book online, but barely got past a couple of blocks. Still lots of work to do on the blocks, then sandwich, quilt and bind.

Grateful Hearts Sampler I started this quilt top in Jan `10.  All the fabric is purchased, and a handful of blocks are done - but lots to go yet!  

Tea Cups - This is a very oooold project, when I first learning about paper piecing.  I have 11 blocks done.  I think these are destined to be orphan blocks, but I`m not quite ready to give them up.

Civil War Diary – Another oldie but goodie.  I have 13 blocks done - and a huge stack of CW repro fabrics.  I`ll get back to this. I enjoyed fussy cutting for these blocks.  This is a long term project.

Quilt Kits - I spent some time a couple of years ago cutting up stash to prepare kits.  I have 7 kits still in their ziplocs.

Erin's Visit – This was a "homemade quilt kit in a ziploc" and I've sewn 10 blocks so far.

Black & Bright – I've got 35 blocks done.  I'm not sure if I need to make more blocks or not. I pieced the bonus triangles as I went along, and I think I would incorporate them into a border or some kind.  This is going to take some design work, possibly some more blocks, piecing, then sandwich, quilt and bind.

Rural Jardin – I am sure I had a plan for this at some point-- why else would I purchase 2yds of fabric, plus a $40 Jelly Roll? I wouldn't mind some suggestions! 

Mill House Inn – Yep, I remember buying the3 charm packs, as well as 1 metre & 2 metre cuts of coordinating fabric.  But do I remember what I was going to make with it? Nope. Again, I'm open to suggestions! Gibby heard the camera turn on, and instantly jumped into the photo - my favourite ham!

Beatles panels – pillows and quilt and 2 metre cut of keyboard printed fabric - I intended to stitch these up into some fast project for Hubby's "man room".  He doesn't have a "man room" any longer, but I'm not ready to get rid of this yet.

Granny Squares - I have wanted to make this quilt for a long time.  I found a great tutorial HERE at Lori's blog Bee In My Bonnet.  I've been cutting fabric for it, and test laying out blocks.  I am planning on using black fabrics instead of brown in this pic, or white in the tutorial.

Sweet Tea - I bought this fabric in Dec '09.  I think about starting this quilt all the time, and it was especially on my mind as I sorted through my fabrics over the last couple of days and noticed all the lovely pink prints I have in my stash.

Grandmother`s Choice - Another recent WIP.  This BOW is to be found at and I am behind!  I have two blocks to catch up, and another one is going to be posted tomorrow morning. I have a box full of black and red CW repro FQs that I've set aside for this project.

School of Rock - I started this quilt in Aug '10.  It's nearly done.  It's pin basted and half quilted.  I just need to finish quilting it, and then bind.

Spinning Four-Patches - I made these blocks in Dec 09  and I do want to finish them off.  

Scrappy Mountain Majesty - this is a more recent WIP.  It's a Bonnie Hunter pattern, and the first pair of blocks - - yeah, I screwed them up. I tore the first block apart twice before I finally realized, it cannot be fixed. I'm using up recycled men's shirts.

Mug Mats - another recent WIP.  I just have to hand stitch down the binding on the last two.

 Finished tops to be Sandwiched, Quilted, and Bound

  • Cranberry Garland - I understand my mom is in serious like with this quilt.  I recently finished this top.

  • Nine Patch - this photo doesn't represent what the finished top looks like.  It was a free pattern from Moda Bake Shop: Sweet Menagerie. It has a couple of borders on it now.

  • Courthouse Steps  - I love this quilt.  This photo doesn't represent what the finished top looks like, but I guess I didn't take a photo of it. This was pieced entirely from recycled men's shirts, and it is queen sized.  I have the back pieced as well, and included lots of left overs from the top.

  • Virginia Bound  - this is one of my favourite quilts I've ever made.  It's from Bonnie Hunter's first book, I believe -- Scraps & Shirttails.  Now that I look at it though...I wonder if I should consider adding a border to it - or perhaps I already did!  I didn't unfold it! :)  This was such a pleasure to sew.

  •  Heart of the Home - not too old of a UFO - I finished piecing the top about a year ago I guess.  

A few others, very low on the list of UFO's:

Some English Paper Piecing

A couple of kits - a Christmas table runner, and a tote bag

Another tote bag

And lastly, several assorted jelly rolls and charm packs - no specific plans for them, yet.