Monday, February 18, 2019

February Love

Hello!  There has been slow but steady progress in February on my various quilting projects.

It is always fun to announce a finish. This is my first finish for 2019 - Irish Star Chain. It's also my first project quilted with my new midarm.  My hubby and I have already snuggled under it watching television one evening. I'm so pleased with how it looks - even my quilting!

April Showers (the 54 degree grey/yellow/teal quilt) is under the midarm needle and about halfway done.. I hope to finish that one next week.

This weekend I finished the Out of This World block and my yellow RSC blocks for February

Then I began working on Highland Fling, evapaigedesign's mystery quilt. After a quick Facebook consult on background color choices (most quilters preferred white for contrast against my brights), I finished all the cutting and began sewing. Now I feel like I have a million half-square triangles to trim. This will be a quick project. Just two more weekly clues and it's done.  I can't wait to see what all these pieces turn into. And this one is all from my stash, even the background!

If you try the accordian trick to make a wide variety of half-square triangles, be sure to have a leader-ender project at hand. I was able to make six Lady of the Lake blocks while making my first set of accordians for Highland Fling.

What's next?  According to my quilting plan spreadsheet, I need to add borders to Acadian Mist and make more units for En Provence over the next two weeks.  Maybe I need to shoot for that 20-minutes-a-day goal so many of you are trying. Some evenings after work and dinner I just want sit and relax. That's probably the best time for some quilt therapy.

Have you been making progress on your 2019 quilting goals, too?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Sunshine a plenty

February's RSC color per Angela is YELLOW. That means I am digging through my yellow & gold scraps to make several blocks for the my RSC projects. The last time I pulled yellow scraps, I made this for my daughter:

Yellow makes me think of spring.  This week is projected to be much warmer than last week here in the south. That makes me so happy!  <singing "I've got a pocket, got a pocket full of sunshine">

I am happy to announce I finished the quilting on Irish Star Chain, the first I did with my new mid-arm, and will bind it this week. Then I can plug that finish into my 2019 page (and update the picture).  Next up should be Arcadian Chain (Patty Cake/Irish Chainish), but I really want to work on the Stormy Skies, the grey/teal/yellow quilt that is already sandwiched and ready to go.

Beth Hertler of evapaigedesigns announced her new mystery quilt - Highland Fling - dedicated to us fans of Diana Galbaldon's Outlander series. Of course I have to participate! I have been a fan for more than 20 years, when I found her first Outlander novel at a bookstore innocently waiting for me to thumb through and become engrossed. For a small fee, you can jump in on the fun here. I dug through my scraps last week and decided I need to either use white as my background or shop for a light grey. Even if you do not want to do another mystery quilt, check out Beth's unique accordian triangle trick. It's a great way to mix colors for half square triangles.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Lots of Small Steps

When dealing with large projects in my professional life, I learned to break down projects into smaller steps so you can measure progress and so the project scope does not get overwhelming. It works the same way with quilts. You cut and sew units, sew the units into blocks, assemble the blocks and sashing, add borders then sandwich and quilt.  For scrap quilts, you can make a few blocks each day, week or month.

Last year my spreadsheet of works in progress (WIPs) had columns to the right representing months. I marked what steps planned for each month. As the year progressed, some of those tasks began sliding to the right, delayed more and more. That's okay because at least some progress was made.

For 2019, I created a similar plan, although now I decided how many blocks to make each month so eventually the quilt could be finished within the year.  That was an easy decision for Pat Sloan's Out of This World block-of-the-month.  ONE block each month.  For my two RSC projects, I will be making 3 blocks a month for each.  That's a total of 7 blocks a month.  Hey, they both use the same 2" strip size so I can use the same fabrics for the background!  See January's red blocks.

Have you made a quilt with plaids?  I had made test blocks of Moth in the Window and Sugar Bowl (both Bonnie Hunter patterns), plus a Double Pinwheel from an old quilt book. I would like to select at least one plaid each month and make 1-2 blocks for each project, varying the placement of contracting solids. That would add 3 to 6 blocks a month.

Speaking of Bonnie Hunter, I have three WIPs for which I am still making blocks - En Provence, Garden Party and Lady of the Lake. There HAS to be a few of you who are as slow as me!  I am still working on the neutrals and units for the large En P blocks. The other two quilts need LOTS of blocks. If I made 3 or 4 a month for each, that would add 6 to 8 blocks a month for the plan.

Hmmm, this plan means I need to sew 16 to 21 blocks a month for ongoing block collections. I'm not sure about that. For pure sewing fun, I have been working on various other quilts, including Bonnie's Tobacco Road and Double Delight, plus I have seven flimsies waiting with their backing to be quilted.  Now it's getting a bit overwhelming.

This is where priorities come into play. Which projects should I absolutely make time for and which ones can slide?  This is my set of priorities:

Priority one (BOM/RCS) =  7 blocks
Priority two (DD) = Double Delight as leader/ender
Priority three (EP) = En Provence
Priority four = Pick a flimsy to quilt and just do it
Priority five (GP/LOL) = Make progress on Garden Party, Lady of the Lake
Priority six = Make progress on other WIPs in assembly stage
Priority seven = Squirrels (those projects that catch your eye but there isn't enough free time to focus on them, but you really, really, really want to make them)

January progress/plan:
#1 - I finished my RSC blocks in red and the BOM.
#2 - Finished cutting millions of triangles and sewed some units while making the RSC blocks.
#3 - Cut more neutrals for EnP
#4 - Sandwiched my green Irish Star Chain flimsy and will take a mid-arm class on Saturday.
#5 - LOL inventory count was 14 blocks made. If I sew 10 blocks a month, in a year I will have enough blocks to make the quilt. Could I really fit in 10 a month? I can commit to 4, maybe 8 a month. So this project may take a bit longer. I cut fabric for four blocks and found enough already cut for about 12 more blocks.
#6 - Add final borders to Patty Cake and last year's RSC sampler so they can move to #4.
#7 - My current Squirrel is Tobacco Road for which I have cut all the bricks and will be cutting fabric strips for the non-brick units. I'm doing this in patriotic colors. How does "The Road to Freedom" sound for a quilt title?

Notice the plaids are not in play. Most likely the plaids will collect dust just have to wait until 2020.

This kind of planning works for me. I really like working on multiple projects at the same time because I get bored easily. Does that happen to you?  Hopefully my example will help you tackle your own WIP list. Make your plan and set priorities.

On a higher note, last weekend I flew my baby in circles around my home airport for some landing practice. Maybe next time I will bring a passenger to snap photos so you can see picture proof! My goal for 2019 is to fly more, so I plan to participate in the local breakfast club and schedule another flying vacation this summer.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Red for RSC19

This year I am planning to participate in Angela's RSC program. My RSC block will be like this one:

I am calling it Seeing Spots, because the background fabric will be a dotted swiss and the block is sort of like a big dot. My scrap bins tend to have strips a bit smaller than 2.5", so by using 2" strips the blocks will end up at 9" finished.  If I make 3 blocks for the next eight months plus one extra, that will give me enough to set 5 x 5 and should make a nice sized baby quilt at 45 x 45 inches.  The block idea came from Capital Quilters Guild in Australia (click here for this one and other blocks of the month).  I have made all three RED blocks for January although I did not snap a picture yet.

It's not making much of a dent in my scrap bin, so I need another RSC project. Maybe I should choose this one called Spring Bloom, or God's Eye.  Both are on my wish list. I have about 5 yards of solid black, so the large God's Eye blocks may be the winner. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Beginnings

Happy New Year, folks!  While binge-watching Game of Thrones, I made Block #1 of Pat Sloan's Out of This World BOM.  This block was named Space Shuttle. Like that center!
Check out her free patterns HERE

I was one of the fortunate who snapped up the fabric collection from Fat Quarter Shop before it sold out. Last year I waited a few months then started buying camping themed fabrics for her Let's Go Camping BOM, but I never made any of the blocks. Maybe I should make it at the same time as the 2019 series.

This first block was a huge one.. I like the soft gray, navy and teal colors underscored with a little black. This should be fun!  My uncle used to work for NASA, so I am all for celebrating space exploration.  Plus I really love sci-fi books and movies.  Venture is my word for 2019, after all.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Planning for 2019

Hello! I hope you had a merry Christmas holiday and are looking forward to beginning a new year.

Last week I came up with my final count of quilting projects and measured my accomplishments / activities in lights of the goals I had set for 2018.  It was a good feeling to realize that I had met or at least nearly met the goals I had set.  Now that is the week between Christmas and New Year's Day I find myself thinking about my plans for the next year.

Doing some freestyle word association, I was thinking in terms of explore, discover and learn, but these words alone did not encompass the spirit of courage and boldness that I wanted. The theme I chose for 2019 is Venture.  Venture brings to mind "adventure" and venturing into the great unknown.

GOAL #1:  Try a new technique (e.g. scallop border, curved piecing, T-shirt quilt)

I also decided to drop the UFO acronym and call my unfinished projects "Works in Process". They are WIPs that I will eventually whip into a finished quilt. Hah!  Currently I have 14 works in process plus 8 flimsies for a total of 22.

GOAL #2:  (continued from 2018) Reduce WIP count in half.

Venture also means project and undertaking and mission.  My impression of the many quilting blogs I read is that most of these talented quilters are much more prolific than me. My count varies between 6 to 10 projects completed in a year. I have 22 WIPs and a long wish list, so if I want to try new things, I need to work more efficiently.

GOAL #3: Use leader-ender technique to sew more projects.

Most of us use the blog forum to share pictures of our quilting projects and share a little of our lives with readers. Yet I want to document my quilts more formally and save more information than what I keep in my blog. Plus I want to keep track of my count. As a pilot I have a logbook to track my flight hours in various airplane types, cross-country time and instruction time.  I'm not planning to track sewing hours, just keep a record of my quilting projects. Maybe I will keep a record of other sewing projects such as clothing, bags and table runners. Maybe.

GOAL #4: Document my quilts.

I am creating a form which will include the quilt title, pattern, pattern designer, who quilted it, size, dates started/completed, batting, gift recipient (if I didn't hoard it myself), and a notes section to explain how I chose the design and fabric, and include at least one picture of the quilt.  And a sequence number <grin>.  Stay tuned this year to find out my final count!

Image result for quilting clipart
Linking up with JetGirl at #2019PlanningParty.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Off the Wagon

In spite dealing with a nasty respiratory virus, I did get some quilting done this past month.

1) Fat Quarter Shop's Sew Sampler box from May 2018 included a Jolly bar of "Pepper and Flax" and a quilt pattern called Beehive.  I had to add fabric for the background and outer border (a quick purchase from a local quilt shop).  This was a simple pattern, very easy to sew. Voila! Beehive is a flimsy!

2) My daughter's friend is expecting a baby boy in early 2019. She will get the Baby Fox quilt finished earlier this year, plus a double flannel blanket in a cute fox print I whipped up last week.

3) quilt diet has fallen off the wagon. Instead of finishing up more UFOs, I fell in love with Connecting Thread's new line "Arcadian Mist" and decided to make another quilt for my mother. I liked Eleanor Burns' Patty Cake pattern except for the partial blocks along the edge. When I saw Cindy's "Irish Chainish" quilt here, the light bulb went on and I placed my order. After removing the light fabrics from two layer cakes, I needed a few more prints to make this a queen-sized quilt. I added some from CT's "Oh My Darling" line from a couple years ago. Perfect!  This is a very easy pattern with NO triangles. It is coming together very quickly.

If I can finish a few small projects on my UFO list in the next couple of weeks, my overall count for 2018 will be:

Began with 25 UFOs less 2 demoted to the sample blocks bin.
Finished 11 quilts, leaving 12 UFOs of which 3 are flimsies ready to quilt.
***My goal was to finish half of my UFOs, so I'm counting this as a win. Yay!***

During 2018, I began 9 new quilts (oops, make that 10 now) of which 3 were completed.
That leaves 7 added to work-in-process list, of which 5 are flimsies ready to quilt. Open projects include the new Irish Chainish and the green Irish Star Chain flimsy.  Hmmm, do you see a theme here? 

Ending UFO/WIP count is 19, including 8 flimsies ready to quilt. 

Wow, those flimsies are accumulating! Normally I send most of my pieced quilts out to be longarmed, but I'm getting to the point where I want some level of custom quilting and am not happy about paying for it. That means I need better equipment so I can do my own quilting. So I played with a Juki mid-arm at my local quilt shop. I tried doing a small feather and it came out really good for my first try. I definitely like the stitch regulator. But I need your advice before buying a mid-arm. 

PLEASE comment if you have experience using a mid-arm and can recommend certain features or manufacturers.

On a higher note, my airplane is getting its annual maintenance tune-up. She needs new spark plugs, a replacement tire and other parts, plus some other work so it will not be a low-cost checkup this time. <sigh>  Poor baby, she didn't get much exercise this past year. Airplanes need regular exercise, just like us humans.  I expect to fly much more frequently in 2019 and already several trips in mind. I'm also dusting off the elliptical and free weights <deeper sigh>.