Sunday, January 31, 2016


Aaahh, what a glorious day off!  I started the day by sleeping in, and then laying about while I finished reading my book.  This one was Forget Me Knot by Mary Marks, the first in a cozy quilt mystery series.

This one was a good one!  I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the quilting, everything about it!  If you like cozies, I recommend this one.  I'll be on the lookout for the next 3 books in this series.

I also spent some time attacking my scraps, cutting some up into squares and using some to make 4 more Strippy Flippy Scrappy Happy blocks - I now have 9 and the design is starting to emerge.  Love it!

Finally, I checked email and learned that I won 50 Birds In The Air blocks from this month's Block Lotto!!  Woo hoo!  I know this means I'll have another UFO to add to the pile instead of blocks going out, but I love these blocks and am happy that they will be staying with me and getting 41 new friends to play with.

I hope you all had a wonderful day as well!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Westering Women BOM, Block 1 Done!

I'm an easy mark.  I was reading Lane's blog today, and he mentioned Barbara Brackman's 2016 Block of the Month.  Curious, I clicked over to see what it was.  And just like that, I'm hooked!!

It's called Westering Women, and what I love about it is that she includes anecdotes and illustrations about the westward journey on the overland trails in the 19th century.  Throw in some reproduction fabrics and I'm LOVING it!

The first block is Independence Square.  I have one directional print in there, so I had to unpick one seam where I wasn't paying attention, but otherwise, it went together quickly and easily.

I look forward to next month's block.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Strippy Scrappy Flippy Happy

Remember the string quilt block I made this weekend, inspired by this blog post/tutorial?  While chipping away at my prolific scraps today, I made four more!
She calls her quilt blocks "Strippy, Scrappy, Flippy, Happy"

My blocks measure 10.5" with a 6" wide center strip and 2" orange "ribs", whereas her blocks are 8.5" with 3" wide center strips and skinnier black "ribs", so the look is a little different but no matter.  I love it!  I have a feeling the finished quilt will be a bit RIOTOUS!  All that color!  All those lines going this way and that!

I remain on task with my sewing and organizational goals for the year.

  • I've already started February's Block Lotto blocks, but can't reveal them until February 1 because I got a Sneak Peek at February's pattern.  Again, they are a great way to use up my scraps - I'm not going to the stash drawers for these fabrics but straight to the scrap bins.  
  • I've been studiously cutting scraps into precut squares, averaging WAY MORE than my 15 minutes per day minimum of scrap cutting while listening to books on tape - it sure makes the time fly while doing a not-so-exciting task.  I finished the 4th Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny, yesterday, and am now in the midst of Defending Jacob by William Landay.  
  • I even remembered to get some new destash fabrics into my ETSY shop, from which I've been getting 1-3 sales per week for a couple months now.  I may just get myself organized and downsized this year, after all!

Back to work tomorrow, which means more knitting than sewing for a few days.  I'm so glad I had this long weekend to really dive back into my sewing room.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow Day Sewing

This snowstorm has been such a godsend!  I really needed some time to unwind and sleep in, plus catch up on some chores, work and, of course, SEWING!  One of my goals this year was to bust some UFOs. I'm happy to report that one is DONE!  Remember my scrappy Log Cabin blocks that I couldn't figure out how to set?  I finally just picked a layout and stitched them together, and I love it!
I'm happy to move this from the UFO pile to the Flimsy Waiting to be Quilted pile. 45" x 63"
I'm pretty sure this will be the quilt I give to my new niece, Cecilia.  I drove to New Hampshire with the boys to meet her last weekend, part of the reason I was so exhausted last week (12 hours one way is a long way to drive with no other drivers), but meeting her was worth it.
Meet Cecelia, my newest niece
I held her as much as I could get away with - unfortunately, I had to share with others.
It also mobilized me to finish a quilt for her.  I already have a backing picked out.  My goal tomorrow is to sandwich and start the hand quilting.

While sewing, I also cut hundreds, literally HUNDREDS, of scraps into squares for use in future projects in an attempt to tame my mountains of scraps.  But some of the scraps didn't get cut up.  Instead, I experimented with a string quilt block I found online earlier today.

I know it is bold of me to use orange as the strips around the center of the block, but I had some orange strips already cut, so I thought "What the heck?"  After all, the point is to use up scraps I already have, not make new ones.  I love the finished quilts at the end of the string quilt block post - I'm hoping I'll love my version, too!

I'm glad I made that list of goals at the beginning of the month - it is helping me to focus my efforts when I go down into the sewing room.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Staying the course

I know it is early in the year to be crowing about goals met, but I'm staying on track so far to get my quilting life organized and under control.  I made my 9 Block Lotto blocks for this month,
6" Birds in the Air
and every time I had to press a piece for the blocks, I also pressed a scrap (or two or five) and took them to the cutting mat to cut them to size.  LOTS of scrap management happened this weekend!  I posted 3 more fabrics to my Etsy shop.  And I'm completely moved back into my sewing room, although I do have one corner of STUFF that is still not organized and put away.  I'm tackling it a little bit at a time, and doing a pretty good job of getting rid of things I'll likely never use.  Yay me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Skeletons in My Closet

My husband and I are switching rooms again, his office and my sewing room.  I'm not-so-secretly THRILLED because that means I'm moving back into the room we originally planned to be my sewing room when we finished our basement: it is bigger, has much better natural light, has a closet and has walk-out doors to the yard.  Happy me!  Except moving all my sewing supplies is a lot of work, taking time away from actual sewing.

However, the beginning of the year is the time to re-assess and re-group and clean anyway, right?  I've been feeling a little overwhelmed in my sewing space, so time to get my act together down there. As I moved things over to the new room, I took time to organize them and make lists.

Oh, boy.  Making lists illuminates so much, sometimes things that you'd prefer to remain obscure.
Like how many UFOs I have: 28
Like how many completed tops I have that need quilting: 25
Like how many quilts I am currently quilting (I'm a hand quilter): 7
Top shelf = UFOs, middle shelf = flimsies, bottom shelf = being quilted
(ignore the defunct water softener in the yard outside the window - it is headed to the dump)
I know that I am a process person, not a finisher - that's no secret.  But this is a bit out of control, don't you think?

On to the fabric stash.  Much of it is contained in these drawers, neatly enough for me.  Then there's another HUGE drawer of a dresser that is also full of assorted yardage that doesn't fit in these drawers.
The smaller drawers are sorted by color - the larger drawers are for novelty (2 drawers) and multicolor florals (1 drawer)
But any of you who know me knows that I work primarily with scraps.  They make my heart SO HAPPY!  They are the first place I go when I start a block.  I pre-cut scraps into various squares from 1.5" to 5".  They are relatively neatly organized.
No worries - I won't be leaving these in the window for long; they are just here while I rearrange and figure out where to put things.  There is also a big drawer full of 5" squares and a baggie full of 3.5" squares.  I have the same system at work, with about as many pre-cut squares, but that's at work so it doesn't count, right?
BUT (and this is a huge but), I am a bit behind on my scrap cutting.  These 3 tubs, box and plastic bag are scraps (hangs head in shame).
Ignore the mess ON the futon - that's just stuff I haven't put away yet.
And then, there's one more skeleton in the closet that needs exposing.  Remember how I'm a process person?  Sometimes I make just one block.  For the process, not to make a quilt.  Or I abandon a quilt idea altogether after making some blocks.  So I have some orphans.  Or more accurately, HUNDREDS of orphans.
To be fair to myself, I did INHERIT some of these orphans, and I also dumped all of the bonus triangles I have sewn into this drawer, too.
But no worries, I have a plan!

  1. I will dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes a day cutting scraps.  I recognize that there will be days when I don't get to cut scraps, and that is OK, but it means I'll need to make up for it on other days.  I have already printed out a calendar to mark on for this, and have been keeping track since January 1.  I am giving myself the winter to get my scraps under control.  When spring arrives on March 20, any untamed scraps must leave my house!
  2. I have joined Aunt Marti's UFO Challenge (the challenge is at the bottom of the post).  Hopefully this will help me get 12 UFOs to the flimsy stage. 
  3. I will participate in Block Lotto again.  I've enjoyed this in the past, and it gets me using my scraps.  Plus, all the blocks I make LEAVE THE HOUSE instead of staying here and adding to the lists.  (of course, one time I won Block Lotto - those blocks are all together now on the UFO shelf)
  4. I will post at least 2 pieces of yardage for sale in my ETSY shop each week to help me de-stash.  Honestly, there's no reason to keep holding onto fabric without ever using it.  I actually started this a month or two ago, and have been headed to the post office at least once a week shipping off fabric.
  5. I will finish an orphan quilt by the time the Drive-In opens this season (end of March).  I made an orphan quilt years ago, and loved taking it to the Drive-In movies and on road trips.  In fact, it never left the car until it went missing.  I have plenty of orphans to make another.  I will tie it like I did the last one, not quilt it.  I can do this!
  6. I will finish quilting at least 4 quilts by July.  I owe quilts to two babies.  I'm working on one for my mother (shhhh...don't tell!).  And I'll need an entry for the local quilt show like I do every year.  That's a month and a half for each quilt.  The baby quilts and the one for my mother are small-ish.  Not sure yet which I'll choose for the quilt show.
I can DO this.  Just putting my hands on everything as I've moved has been inspiring to me.  I'm itching to get down there and sew, now that it is more organized and I'm in a bigger space.  GO ME!!