I sewed with Jo

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Our local quilt store, Christmas Crab Quiltery, has a free sewing afternoon pretty much every other Friday. they have a wonderful large shop with a second room all laid out perfect for classes. It’s HUGE! It is also heavenly to sew in.

it had been snowing all morning, and while it was not stormy (at least by Maritimer standards), it was steady so I got Ron to drive me in. I was the only gal who showed up, which was fine, because that meant I got the BEST table all to myself. I also brought in a few quilts tops that were all finished so I could show them off. Jo & Shelly have a slightly different style than I do, and many of the fabrics in the shop reflect that style – deeper, darker colors, lots of beige, brown, rust navy – great colors, but not always me. 😉 I prefer brighter colors and modern contemporary patterns. even the pattern I bought there I did different than their sample. That’s the awesome part about quilting.

Shelly has a blog here, go read it. She noticed I use a lot of cherry fabric when I can find it, so I joked that she’ll probably call me as soon as they get any fabric in with cherries.

I got a LOT of work done. The central table was large enough for me to spread out the way I like and work best. The iron was all set up, hot and waiting. Company was awesome, and there was even hot chocolate. What more can a gal ask for? I did not even get upset when I discovered I had sewn some quilt blocks in the wrong order and will have to take out three seams. It was no biggie because everything else went that much smoother. Probably not a good idea of me to wear my polar fleece sweater though. I have thread snippets stuck all over me.

No, I did not take pictures, or bring my netbook to check on tweets, or even tweet from my phone. It was a good three and a half hours away from technology, just talking and sharing and sewing, and even quiet times. At one point, I broke the silence by saying, “Wow, I have sewed for more than ten minutes and nobody has interrupted me. Not once.”

I am going to make this a regular habit, as I can see how very useful it will be when I finally get around to quilting some of these tops. At least it will be sooner than it is possible for me to get a new craft room. Kinda like having my cake and eating it too, even if it’s at someone else’s place.

Added bonus: when I run out of things, I am RIGHT THERE in the shop! 😀

My back hurts from being hunched over my machine, and I am really tired & sleepy (plus wound up from the chocolate) but my creative soul is happy. I have half a chapter left to edit, and a pile of screenshots to sort out, but after a good night’s sleep I’ll be refreshed. At least I hope so.

Worked on:
– quilt back for Dandelion Girl Chinese Coins, prepped binding, discussed quilting ideas
– trimmed back for rainbow quilt, cut binding
– 4 or 5 rows for red & yellow Disappearing 9 patch quilt
– 3 half rows for purple & blue New Wave quilt (minus mistakes, ran out of white fabric strips)
This one takes longer to sew, because of the angles, so I spent about half my time on it.

the process

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I guess there’s this process pledge running around the quilt bloggers.

While not exactly pledging, per se, it does at least give me a jumping off point for stuff to blog about. I mean, surely at least my mom will read this post… all the way to the end….

Some quilts take a long time to make. That might seem to you one of the biggest understatements of the year, (“It’s like saying Hitler was a tad disagreeable,”) but there you go. Some quilts take longer than usual because, as my mom says, you have to live with it for a while, before you actually live with it all finished.

(and when all else fails, give it away! Oh how generous, we made this just for you, I SWEAR we did…)

So once upon a time we wandered in a quilt shop and I fell in love with some fabric. *shrug* It happens. It happens with alarming frequency, actually. I bought a jelly roll of it. I convinced my mom to buy me a charm pack of it.

Charm pack

It very quickly mostly sold out before I figured out what to do with it. Also: I am cheap. I don’t want to by yards of something unless I really really (really) need / want it. And I realized afterwards when my local quilt shop owner does her own packs, they contain half the quantities. So I have a smaller stash. And I am stuck.

But still we get back to the process – I have these limitations, almost like a challenge or a trick algebra question on the final exam. You have X amount of 4″ squares and Y amount of 2.5″ strips, 44″ long. Your challenge: make a usable quilt that is both visually appealing and leaves as little leftovers as possible.

I get the fabric in April. By July, I figure out the blocks.

Oh hey, new quilt in progress

All the rest of the summer, I try different variations with the remaining bits of the strips used on the blocks set up on a felt design wall in the craft room. I’ve only done a few blocks to start, while I make up my mind. Then we discover the craft room wall is leaking, mildew is building up, and I pack up all kinds of things. That, in fact, was summer last year, not this one. It sits in a pile until now, shuffled off. Sometimes you need to do that – stuff it in a pile where you can’t see it. Hide it so your subconscious can turn the puzzle around.

I have new fabric coming, and the piles on one end of the production line are getting bigger, and things are not progressing down the queue. I resolved about a month ago to actually sew, instead of the real fun part – cutting stuff out.

Eventually this pile came to the top, neglected and bawling, and I pressed and I sewed and I plowed through the really quite small pile, whatever took me so long, now really Andrea, sheesh. I lay things out on the floor, when reasonably cleared, sometimes just out of trafficway but where others can see it and make suggestions.

testing layout

Here I am last weekend, testing out fit and the layout in general. Now that I’ve made up my mind on assembly and working on this quilt in particular, I can see that some squares need to be reorganized in terms of color and value, but while doing this, my main point was to figure out where to sew strips in relation to the blocks themselves. I just tossed them down, willy-nilly, spinning them quickly with one hand to line up the edges next to each other. Before I sew the rows together, I’ll get Ron to help make sure color and value are distributed evenly all over the quilt. No two prints touching, like cartographers of fabric.

Four rows of five blocks, and using strips means making sure I have enough for a border all the way around. There are two rows of strips between the rows of blocks, but not through the middle itself. The strips as rows are added deliberately to make the quilt more square, instead of along the other way, where there are more blocks. I overlapped them slightly to account for seams. The upper left shows one remaining strip, and if I guesstimated this correctly, I will have probably a 6″ strip left over.

Not accounting for backing and binding, that is. 😉

Next steps:

– sew strips together in groups of three
– test layout of blocks & strips
– figure out block layout and sew rows of blocks together
– test layout again
– sew rows of blocks and strips together
– test layout with strips as borders
– sew borders on

And then, THEN it can sit in the “finished tops” pile, which, although growing at a substantially slower rate than the “to cut” pile, is at long last growing. I can decide on the binding (leaning towards a dark color here) and backing later, either finding something in my stash or breaking down and actually buying yardage from the same line if I can find some. This one, I think, would be worth it. And lets face it – my mom doesn’t have any yardage of this line in her stash. No ideas yet on the actual design of the stitching when I do get around to quilting the layers together. I think I’d like to do swirly more so than following lines, though my free motion skills are laughable right now.

It is a small-ish quilt though, literally only covering your lap, or a small side table or a section of floor for a very special indoor picnic with your best play teacups, the antique ones in the cupboard that belonged to your auntie.

Oooo! Another one!

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So, the quilt is progressing.

More on the Amish quilt

Two more little corners, then I can swing into the border. I’ve had to retrace the design THREE TIMES. Because I used chalk. Well, the first time I used cornstarch because I read some stupid tip. One white me later, I decided it was a stupid idea.

Anyway. Despite the apparent struggles of the chalk lines wiping off, I am looking forward to doing the swervy interlocking border lines. I’m thinking of binding it in black, what do you think?

(I will also add a label & a sleeve for hanging, as it’s wall-sized.)

Emma has been crafty lately.

Emma's pets

As you can imagine, being a long-term homeschooler who used to own a craft store, I have a tons of supplies. you know, just in case a crafting emergency breaks out. You never know.

So I’ve been encouraging her to do more creative exploring and independent work. (She countered with “How about you teach me to sew on the sewing machine?” Smart kid.) Now she has something like 16 of these puppies. I got the Klutz book at a yard sale where these kids tried to sell it with half the supplies left, couldn’t then tossed it in the (clean) trash at the end. Yes, I snagged it.

There were cardstock pages of small items to punch out and fold together, but these were gone. Emma traced the outlines and made her own. We got new eyelash yarn for the bodies and OF COURSE we had a plentiful supply of pipe cleaners and googly eyes or beads.

If you would like to adopt a wonky-eyes pipe cleaner dog (or kitty!) just let Emma know. Carrying case may or may not be included.


And in case you are of the 20% of my readers who are NOT related to me, you may be unaware it is my birthday on Sunday. A very dear friend that I work with occasionally sent me a “little something” from my Amazon wishlist.


I KNOW! I was pretty jazzed.

And thankful. 🙂

I’ve been quilting

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Last count (I made a list) I have 22 quilts on the go.

Over the years, I have completed three quilts.

I fall down at the actual quilting part. I *love* picking out fabric. I *love* sewing the tops together. I fight & struggle and OW and moan about the sewing together of the layers. Hand sewing takes so long. I’ve been working on a hand-quilted twin sized quilt for Sarah since she was about 6 years old.

machine quilting? My machine hates me. My other machine? Well, it had feed issue. As in, when you release the feed & drop the feed dogs, it still feeds. (Yeah, I know.) I am surely kicking myself now.

So with a looming pile of quilt tops, and the fabric re-sorted into piles, half of which are uncut, things were urgent. Emma says I shouldn’t cut out any more quilts until I actually, you know, quilt. There are four completely finished tops waiting. There are six quilts tops in progress. The rest are piles of carefully stacked fabrics no one is allowed to touch.

Except for one.

One I am actually machine quilting.

I had started trying to machine quilt it with what I had, then wound up unpicking it all.


Yes, my family thinks I am nuts. I’ve basted and re-basted this puppy, trying to find what works best for me.

properly thread basted

I finally broke down, bit the bullet, scrounged up the thirty whole dollars for something for myself, and bought a walking foot for my machine. (The one that hates me, but it may fit on my other one too)

walking foot

My friend Jo said “omg, you didn’t already have one?! “ I KNOW!

I sent my mom an all caps email & told her I was in love. I’m sure she’s deliberating which ones of her tops she can convince me to quilt for her.

Last night, I did a substantial amount of some heavy quilting on this particular quilt with my brand new walking foot. I took small breaks, put Emma to bed and kept going till I was too tired and made a boo-boo I really had to pick out. It was only one straight line.

This was earlier in the evening. The blue areas are all done now.
machine quilting

This morning my arms ache. But it’s a good ache, you know?


A word on the planned quilts: Like many sewers I have piles of fabric. My mom & I share fabric back & forth, plus I scour second hand stores & yard sales, as well as fabric shops, for any piece that “speaks” to me. This means I have a stash of fabric that needs its own room. If you knit, just replace “fabric” with “yarn” and you’ll relate.

So, since I have also been on a cleaning tear lately and ready to chuck out half our belongings, on one of my much-needed mental breaks from work things, I played around with my fabric, got inspired, and groups things together in nice stacks for future quilts. I’m using what I have here, even for the backings. Some in the stash have people’s names attached to them too.

piecing the back

The only thing I really need now is quilt batting.

Also, I’ve been sketching some designs too, because I said at the first of the year I should do more art.

red & yellow disappearing 9 patch

It’s a nice break from work, and some days sorely needed. This is how I recharge, and I need to make sure I do it.