Drowning in Fabric

Forever cleaning, organizing and creating

First 2014 finish!

I can’t believe I made it! Everything was conspiring against me, from my machine not working to my trip cutting my month short…. But I’ve always said I work best with my feet to the fire.

I was so excited to get my machine back and the first order of business was to get my mug rug swap completed.

front

front

back

back

With that pressure off, I moved onto my quilt. Imagine my disappointment when, after all the trouble and service and everything, this is what happened right away:

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Oh my goodness! Did I just waste that money? Is my machine broken?? One thing the guy told me was that this is caused by bad top thread. I was using a good brand and a new spool. I thought he was nuts, but it seemed I had ruled everything else out. I had a trip to Joann’s planned anyway and considered picking up a new spool while there, but “Visit your local quilt shop” day was Saturday and they were having a good sale. I was nervous losing even more time on getting this done, but I decided I wasn’t going to screw around – I needed to get the Aurifil.

I was so skeptical and hoped I wasn’t throwing more good money after bad, but it really did work! I spent most of Saturday quilting. Around 2am I was distressed to find I was looping again. Luckily, I caught it quickly and took it as a sign it was bedtime. After unpicking and rethreading things ran fine the rest of the time, but I honestly am at a point where I am not really trusting my machine anymore. That isn’t good for our relationship.

This is a much smaller quilt than the ones I’ve been working on. I tried to really focus on developing my control and plan. Since the blocks look like butterflies to me, I quilted flying butterflies. I found it was easier to get what I wanted pushing the quilt away from me, both because I was able to move in a more intuitive way and also I could see where I was going. I started to learn how to maneuver the quilt where I needed it by traveling instead of by physically moving and turning the quilt through the machine as I have done with the previous quilts. Even though it was smaller, I still had a hard time working in the middle of the quilt. I also am still getting some knotting or jumping when I stop. Some areas look better than others, and I did cross paths in a couple spots, but overall I am pretty happy with the quilting.

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some areas are bad

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OK. I can’t see those well enough to tell which are supposed to show the good quilting and which the bad and which are duplicates. 🙂 (you can click the pictures to see closeups)

So, here it is completed:

front

front

back

back

I actually think it is upside down in the front picture. Oh well. It is about 50 x 68.  The back showcases my inspiration fabric, which I also used for the binding, but is not anywhere else in the quilt. I still need work on binding as well. There are several spots where I sewed through the back of the binding. I didn’t miss any spots this time though. I love it and am excited to already have a finish this year. It took 6 months to get to that point last year. 🙂

Now I am trying to decide on my goal for February. I have several things to choose from.

Here is my goal post from the beginning of the month

And you can see all of my travels with this quilt from start to finish by clicking the stack the deck tag

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Nothing to sew here…

I am in a mug rug swap on flickr. Our theme for this swap is hearts. Because, you know, for Valentine’s day next month. I decided to chance it and try to get my mug rug made since it has to be mailed out by the end of the month, and I am going to lose time having my machine serviced and going out of town. I think my design was heavily influenced by my chevrons that are staring at me, forlorn, from my design wall.

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This is the front of my mug rug and the binding. I am really pleased with it so far. I also FMQ’d hearts in red thread. It went well and looks really cute, I think.

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This is the back. You can see the quilting better here.

I ran into trouble when I tried to attach the binding. I was actually surprised I got this far. It started skipping stitches and looping again while I was doing the binding. So, I pulled it off and took my machine in yesterday morning. I was there soon after opening, hoping against hope he might be able to get it back same day, but he had a pile of machines to work on. So I have a whole week without my sewing machine. I will have 6 days, roughly, left in the month where I and my machine will both be here. That should be enough time to finish up my stack the deck January goal. I wish I had taken my machine in earlier though, so I am not so up against the wall.

I am really thinking about getting a second (better) machine for times like this. Maybe a Janome or Bernina? A good quality machine that can be my main quilting machine and this one can be a backup. The Singer’s been a good machine to me, and has quite a few bells and whistles. It wasn’t cheap either. But maybe it is time for a good quality quilting machine. I don’t know, just something I’ve been mulling over.

Anyway, the service guy is at my favorite shop on Thursdays. So, as long as I was in there I thought I’d have a look around. I haven’t been there in a few months, because the good cotton went away and usually it is many months to a year before it resurfaces. They were having a “year end clearance sale”. They did have about a half a table with some designer cottons. I grabbed a few of them. I wonder if there were more a few weeks ago or if they will be putting out more. Oh well. It wasn’t the piles and piles they have when they are doing the cotton only sales.

my fabric grabs.

my fabric grabs.

So, while my machine is away, I am doing some cutting for swaps. My swap is doing Denyse Schmidt and I am signed up for I spy and Lizzy House swaps. And some drawing/planning for future quilts. And lots of shopping.

I’ve also been working on cleaning. I have been following along the 52 week challenge, more or less. Last week was to clear off the counters. I did ok there, but it really does pile up. I am trying to be better about cleaning up and clearing off daily, though. Especially as we have been battling really bad ant invasion for weeks. I’ve been doing the borax traps that can be found on pinterest, and it works like a charm getting rid of them for a while, but then they came back. 😦 Not in as great numbers, though. So I am hoping as I keep doing this they will get fewer and fewer. I’ve been working this week on our drawers and cabinets. Just the lower ones because I can’t reach the uppers. And I’ve worked a section a day so it doesn’t take too long or isn’t too overwhelming. I probably won’t finish, but any work I do is better than I was.

I am also working on the toys. I’ve decided to divide them up and do a weekly rotation. Less toys out, less toys to clean up, less cluttery looking, “new” toys to play with every week. We’ll see how that goes.

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Many Trips, continued

Found my picture of the completed top –

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So I stalled a bit on making the back. Here’s what I knew:

– I had a bunch of 5 inch squares I wanted to use. But I didn’t have enough for a full back or border or anything.
– I had some leftover fabric I could use.
– I wanted to use a world panel in the back. In fact, I had collected several in my searching and needed to make some decisions about what, how many, and how to include them.
– I needed to do a lot of calculations to make sure everything fit, was big enough, centered, and didn’t get cut off after quilting.

I had a horrible time deciding with the panels. One was a standard map with all the countries listed. Another was just really cute with a lot of sights listed. I had the viking world map fabric too, which I loved – and they just got back from Greenland/Iceland too. I initially thought I was going to do one map with the quilt landscape, but found it fit fine with the quilt portrait too.

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For the squares, I eventually decided to make 9 patches with cuts from leftover fabric. Then I went through several placement sketches…. ultimately deciding on a strip of them through the back. I couldn’t choose between the panels, and after a lot of calculations to make sure everything would fit, I decided to use both, and hoped it wouldn’t be overkill.

9 patch messages to my aunt

9 patch messages to my aunt

In the tiny bit of leftover space, I used some fabric that didn’t make it into the front: I bought a piece of darling feedsack, but when I got it, it was a smaller cut than the seller had told me and I couldn’t use it in the quilt. I also thought it would loose a lot cut down in 2.5″ squares, so opted to use it in the back. I had also come across a Munki Munki print that was sooo perfect…. but flannel. I finally did buy it after trying to resist because of the flannel. I had to have it, and decided it would go in the back somehow.

feedsack

feedsack

Heather Ross Munki Munki Flannel travel print

Heather Ross Munki Munki Flannel travel print

I chose a blue solid to fill in the rest. Can I tell you how much I am in love with this back??? I am sooo happy with how it turned out.

Finished back

Finished back

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I also included squares that listed everyone in attendance at Hawaii as well as my own messages about the quilt itself and my reasons and process for making it. (pretty much everything I said in the first post)

So, the pictures above show the quilt already finished, but at this point it wasn’t. I stalled again trying to decide how to quilt it. In the interest of time (remember, I was up against a fast-approaching deadline!) I chose to just do a basic stipple. I had all kinds of problems quilting this thing, and I really don’t know why. It should have been so easy. But I was running into all kinds of tension issues so I was getting large loops on the bottom. I had to keep pulling it out and redoing it. One time I think I had the wrong bobbin in the machine, and another time part of the machine had gotten unthreaded, but there were lots of times I just couldn’t figure out what the issue was. I had just finished my son’s quilt with no such issues. So the quilting took a lot more time and effort than it should have.

I also did stupid stuff like this.

I also did stupid stuff like this.

I chose a cloud print I had for the binding, in the interest of finishing quickly. I was not real pleased with how the binding looked, but after many 3 and 4 am nights, finished with a couple days to spare.

….Then everyone got sick and we cancelled the party the day before.

So, I pulled off the binding and reattached it. I am much happier with it now. We have rescheduled our party for New Year’s Eve, so I am still waiting to report on her reaction. She has an idea of what I am doing (because she was there in Hawaii when everyone was making their squares) but not the specifics. I hope she loves it as much as I do. I’ve gotten quite attached to having a big quilt on my lap in the colder weather as I’ve worked on it. I need to finish some of my own quilts so that I have some for me!

These photos are before I washed it…. (which I am glad since it was pretty muddy when I took it out for pictures). I tried to take some closeups so you can see the fabrics – I used over 70 different ones. It is roughly 72×96.

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ABC Polaroid finish

(ETA – I was just informed this is my 75th post)

Confession: I have been sitting on this post for months, not wanting to post it. It is, in small part, another reason for my hiatus this summer. Certainly not the main one, but whenever I sat to post and was faced with making this post, I was not encouraged to continue. I had such high expectations for this quilt. Up to the moment I sat to quilt it, I was certain it was going to be the best one for some time to come.

Basting

Basting

Then I quilted it.

And, as far as I am concerned, ruined the whole thing.

I still sent it, and still got many thank yous and cute pictures from my sister-in-law, but I know in my heart I ruined it. I am not even sure the pictures will be clear enough to show the issues.

I FMQd it. I tried to use a pattern I learned in the class I took in May. It wasn’t a huge quilt- I don’t remember the size but somewhere in the neighborhood of 42×48″- but the blocks were large. I had a lot of trouble navigating the entire block without stopping to readjust. And when I did, my needle would still take many stitches in place, making like a knot in the back.

Can you see the knotting?

Can you see the knotting?

My stitches didn’t meet, were wobbly and uneven, I broke my thread several times, I had to unpick a few mistakes, and at some point kind of just gritted my teeth and busted through it, unhappy as I was.

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Bobbin ran out on second to last block

It came out very wonky. I like wonky, but not so much in the quilting. It looks like a mess ,which is what it is, not like intentional wonkiness.

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Wonky quilting, a look at border quilting and binding

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Some more close ups of the quilting

Some more close ups of the quilting

The back, which I also loved up to this point

The back, which I also loved up to this point

A look at the quilting from the back

A look at the quilting from the back

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Backing and binding are from Mischief, which I got on 50% sale from Fat Quarter Shop, just as I was starting to look. Perfect timing and the perfect backing for an ABC quilt. Second time that has happened.

Here are some finish pictures

Here are some finish pictures

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Close up of blocks o-z

Close up of blocks o-z

close up of blocks a-l

close up of blocks a-l

My nephew

My nephew

Older brother nephew with his tumbler quilt

Older brother nephew with his tumbler quilt

That’s all I have to say about that.

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Calvin’s Jelly Roll Race

My friend’s son had surgery this week on his kidney. He is the same age as my son. With everything going on in my personal life right now, including my own issues with my son, it is easy to forget – but it is things like this that help me realize how blessed we really are. I don’t understand all the details, but I do know they have been hoping to avoid this surgery and it had to be done by 2. It has been stressful and scary for the family. I just hope that the surgery will correct the issue for good!

So I made the quickest quilt in the world for him. It will not get there before they get home from the hospital, but hopefully it will be a comfort nonetheless.

I had just gotten my I spy jelly roll swap back from my I spy swap group. I wasn’t planning to make a jelly roll race quilt with them, but I needed something quick. This does go quick, though definitely took me longer than an hour!

The first night I sewed the top…

Straightening the 1600 inch long strip. Please excuse my nasty couches.

Straightening the 1600 inch long strip. Please excuse my nasty couches.

Sewing the two rows together

Sewing the two rows together

Four rows...

Four rows…

Eight....

Eight….

16...

16…

Completed top.

Completed top – basting

I got a green and blue plaid for the backing and binding. Again, I wanted quick so I went for straight yardage. I made my first small mistake here. I did not square the top before basting. It still turned out pretty straight in the finished quilt, but it took a lot more work and manipulating than was probably necessary.

I decided to try my hand at free motion. I did two rows at a time, alternating loops in each row. No puckering on the back this time, but there are a lot of uneven and jumpy stitches.

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See my new extension table and table insert? 🙂 Definitely makes for easier quilting.

I also forgot to sew around the perimeter before attaching my binding. I had a lot of issues with my binding. I machine bound, and missed a lot of spots on the back, so I had to go back over them. I also had more trouble with the corners this time. They aren’t as pretty or as even.

Here are some photos… (approx 49×66)

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day 1: top and back
day 2: baste and quilt
day 3: square (had a busy day)
day 4: bind

Now I suppose I need to wash it? And I have started back on the new baby’s quilt (The polaroid). I hope to have that finished in the next few days and get all these quilts mailed out. Then I think I really deserve to finish a quilt for me. 🙂 Also, want to get caught up on the Prism QAL, but still trying to decide how to go with that one.

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Back on the wagon.

So, I had my machine unpacked just long enough to get my (rather tardy) mystery border block put together (Another one I really like how it came out) and then had to pack it up again for my class day today!

It’s fun to get out of the house and spend the day sewing somewhere else without interruption or “help” or distraction.  Especially after how busy, upsetting and exhausting my short time back has been (no time for sewing either!).

So I was up bright and early today to head to my LQS for my BOTM class. I have missed the last two (shame!). April because I was at Stash Bash and May because I was in FL. So, out of 6 months, I have a stellar record of finishing three of my blocks. This month we were piecing curves.

I hate templates!

I hate templates!

I don’t know why this was so stressful for me. I mean, I did a lot of clothing sewing long before I ever started quilting. I got spoiled with rotary cutting, strip piecing, HSTs from squares and the like. If I have to bother with a template or pattern or anything, really, that can’t be mass produced from rectangles or squares, I don’t want to mess with it anymore. I am really lazy I guess!

Here's my finished block.

Here’s my finished block.

I love the yellow. A couple of my seams are off, but overall a pretty decent looking block.

Then I took a little lunch break over at the mall, where I completely disregarded my (slow going) diet and ate at Wendy’s. But I got some sort of roasted flatbread sandwich instead of the whole breaded and bunned chicken, and I resisted the frosty! Then I wandered around Ross, Marshall’s, and Macy’s (when did they get so expensive?!?) looking in vain for cheap, summery maxi dresses that short fat chicks with huge boobies can wear for our upcoming trip.

Then it was back for my second class, which I have so been looking forward to. Free Motion Quilting! Now, I haven’t gotten to mess with FMQ since Stash Bash where the likes of Elizabeth and Becky told me I did a great job! Wait til you see today’s efforts. LOL. I need a lot of practice. The teacher was an absolute riot. But, like, without trying to be. Just the way she would say things was hysterical.

First we started practicing some basic lines:

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Ok. Here’s the deal with this. My thread kept jamming and breaking and stuff. So, after a stern lecture about the kind of thread I was using (oops!) I switched the pink for the brown. I was also messing with my tension a lot and stuff too. I still had problems, including running through two bobbins (!) but it went better. I couldn’t get straight lines to save my life. And those waves are supposed to be spirals.

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After passing that by the skin of my teeth, I moved on to the second assignment. This is such a mess, but I do believe you can see progress from the top to the bottom. Oh, and that’s a big loose thread on the top there that I should have removed before I took the photo. Anyway, for this we traced patterns with markers then had to FMQ on top of it. The lessons here were 1. Following a path throughout the pattern without breaking or going over thread. 2. “I am making you do marking so you realize how much you hate it and never do it again.” LOL. It has its place, I think.

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Here is the third assignment, which was really assignments 3-6. In the top two I failed miserably at doing it all in one pass. I had to go back and fill in parts I missed. Other than that, I don’t think the loop one is too bad. The bottom two I did better both in controlling, meeting at intersections, and doing it in one pass. The fourth, if you ignore the border, actually isn’t that bad.

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And this was the last assignment. She wanted us to try doing stars, daisies, fireworks and suns in a meandering sort of thing. I got into a little improv toward the end there. She told me not to go so much in rows, but I was trying to maximize space. After that I started on a stippling project (which I was really sucking at) but my bobbin ran out, then it was time to go.

I did a little shopping (bad me!). While the clearance section was seriously reduced (I missed the hot Memorial Day sale 😦  ) there were a couple new things down there I needed to get. I was bummed I missed on some clearances I had wanted, so I snapped them up. Additionally, they had this darling Storybook Lane panel all assembled, and I decided I had to have them. But there are no directions. So I am not sure what to do. Boo.

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