Labor Day Sew In Success

I know Labor Day is only a distant memory, but I felt so good after it that I had to prolong the joy by posting.

During the weekend, I prepped, sewed., and finished like a wild woman. I kept forgetting to tag my posts #LDSI over the weekend, but I was creating along with everyone else.

Design Wall, Labor Day 2017
Design Wall, Labor Day 2017

Saturday, as I said, I prepped. After prep comes sewing. I was so glad I prepped, because I didn’t have to keep stopping to mark or cut. I could just sew. I finished the HSTs for En Provence, which, in a roundabout way, led me to the QSTs. I did cut out more Little Cell Phone Wallets, but I haven’t yet sewed any of them. I want to do a big assembly line and just need to take the first step. At least, they are ready to go.

I also made progress on the Stars Donation top #3. I hope to get it done this weekend so I can take it to guild next weekend.

After struggling with the Triple Star cutting, I put a block together.

Sew Day Projects
Sew Day Projects

I sewed a couple of the gift bags I prepped as well. I still have a few more to go, but progress.

I really feel like I got a lot done. I felt really good about my sewing and I am sure some of that is due to the fact I was piecing and not quilting. I can’t wait to get back to the machine.

Working Towards a Gazillion Squares

Squares
Squares

I had to bite the bullet over the weekend and just cut like crazy. I can’t finish any more of the Carpenter’s Wheel sections until I cut some more background patches. As I have said 3,000 times, I desperately want to finish a quilt top and so certain tasks must be accomplished.

I can’t finish the 4 patches for Step 3 of the En Provence Mystery Quilt until I cut more blues.

I have had some bits of times to cut and have made some progress, but I really went at it on Saturday and spent nearly the whole day cutting both blues and the text fabrics. It was kind of crazy, actually, because I really cut a lot of squares.

I should have used my Accuquilt for the 2.5″ squares, but the blades on my die have never worked quite right. The pieces I cut last time were more trouble than they were worth. I have to get a new die. In the meantime, I am going through rotary cutter blades.

Fabric Usage

I first mentioned tracking my fabric usage formally on a V&S post a few months ago. Peg recently asked about it, so I thought I would write more about it.

First, if you are a beginner, stop reading and go sew. You are too young a quiltmaker to be worrying about fabric usage.

Second, if you are prone to anxiety, stop reading. Fabric usage is not something you need to add to your list of anxieties. Go sew and enjoy your quiltmaking.

Everyone else may continue reading with the understanding that this tracking system is not to judge, but to understand how much fabric my projects actually take and my fabric usage over the course of a year.

I have been tracking my fabric usage since 2015. I did it all last year as well. Having more of a handle on how to use the spreadsheet helped me to understand what fabrics I was using and how much. I made much better choices about fabric purchases and continue to do so. I am not perfect, but getting better and fabric is so yummy that sometimes it is hard to resist. 😉

I use a spreadsheet that I originally got from Pam of Hip to Be a Square podcast. I have modified to suit my needs. Pam has a blank copy of her fabric usage spreadsheet available on a post from a few years back. It is a good way to start tracking your usage as long as there is no guilt involved. Cheryl, a BAMer, wrote a great post about her spreadsheet for the BAM blog. She talks about her theories around it, why she does it and how she does it.

While there is no shortage of fabric at my house, this spreadsheet is not intended to keep me from buying fabric. That would be a effort in futility and acknowledging that fact feels like a victory. I started so I would know how much fabric I am using per year as well as how much I am adding to my collection. I have a good idea of how many different fabrics I purchase in a year based on the Fabric of the Year quilts, but quantities were always a mystery.

Knowing that I used:

2015: 107.16 yards
2016: 181.34 yards
2017: 62.48 (YTD)

There is no adjustment for how much fabric I have purchased and that changes the numbers a lot. The numbers above are gross, not net. I have to say that knowing how much fabric I used in 2015 spurred me on to sew more in 2016. Using a 100 yards is not out of the realm of possibility and if I made goals like that, that would be my goal. Less than halfway through the year, I am already well on my way.

I find the statistics interesting, but I don’t think you should track your fabric usage unless there is no guilt involved.

Ugly Fabrics

Women's Work Valentine's Day Napkin
Women’s Work Valentine’s Day Napkin

After putting the used napkins from last week in the wash I pulled out new ones. I had rearranged the napkin drawer in order to circulate in some that hadn’t been used in awhile. One was folded back to front and I immediately had an ugly fabric reaction. It really isn’t hideous fabric, but not my colors. The print is interesting. It is a classic design. I don’t think this particular shade of pink has really ever been my color, but I bought it at some point in the past so I must have liked it or had a use for it.

This napkin brought out a whole slew of ugly fabric feelings and thoughts. I was especially reminded of things I had heard I must do.

-Buy a little ugly fabric.

-Put a piece of ugly fabric in your quilts so your nice fabrics will look better.

-Sew ugly fabrics as backs.

You know how well musts work with most people.

I went through about 5 seconds of buying ugly fabric. Then I decided that, for me, that is a seriously dumb idea. I am not spending my hard earned money on ugly fabric when there is so much great fabric out there. I don’t have enough money to buy the fabric I love (bolts of Philip Jacobs prints, please). I also don’t want to devote precious space to ugly fabrics.

The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is relative. My ugly fabric might be your favorite color. I am not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like. Ugly for me will be different than your ugly. Buy your favorites.

Also, what I think is ugly today might not have been ugly to me 10 years ago. Tastes evolve. Also, as a new quiltmaker, you might be trying out different styles to find what suits you. You might also mix what you like. I don’t buy many repro prints, even the cheerful 1930s prints. They just aren’t for me. However, there is a blue in the Civil War arena that I love and periodically I will buy an FQ of one print. I am careful, though to make sure it is more blue than beige.

I worked on a quilt called Thoughts on Dots when I was having a big, fat creative block. This quilt was so painful to make, because I was forcing myself to sew. I was forcing myself to work through the creative block.I had a small child who was going through some stuff. DH was going through some stuff. It was a tough time. I moved around 6.5″ squares for weeks. I finished the quilt top and decided to use some ugly fabric for the back. To be thrifty, I decided to use fabric I wasn’t going to use for a front. The ‘ugly’ fabric isn’t hideously ugly, though it is beige. I interspersed the beige with leftover squares, so the back isn’t completely beige and hideous.

We act like we will never see the back so backs can be a dumping ground for ugly fabrics. Thoughts on Dots is on our bed, so I do see the back pretty often and I sincerely dislike it every time I see it. This is why I have used small pieces of beige for donation blocks. I don’t want beige in my fabric closet. This quilt is nearly the sole reason I use a lot of Philip Jacobs prints for my backs. I have decided I want to enjoy backs as much as my fronts. It doesn’t mean that I buy special fabric for the backs. It means I use fabrics I like from my fabric closet. Those Philip Jacobs prints are so well displayed on a back that I can’t possibly NOT use them now.

I also should have realized that being thrifty didn’t mean I had to use that beige fabric. It isn’t as though there has been a shortage of fabric at my house in a while.

My final thought is that everyone should just use the good stuff immediately. Don’t buy it and save it for some other day. That day is today and you will love whatever you make even more if you can see your new favorite fabric immediately.

Black Friday Sew-in Giveaway Reminder

Reminder that there will be a giveaway from Artquiltmaker Blog!

I have three prizes to giveaway for the Black Friday Sew-in: two patterns and a Design Ratio Tool, which is slightly used.

Feedburner Email option
Feedburner Email option

I don’t know what my schedule will be on today. This means I may not be able to monitor a complicated contest as I have in previous years. Thus, in order to win one of my fabulous prizes, you must be on the email list. Check the sidebar for the Feedburner subscribe widget and enter your email address. (The image, left, is just to give you an idea of what to look for. You can’t actually enter your email in the image)

If you already get the blog via email, you are already entered!

Sign up now!

You will nullify your entry if you unsubscribe before I send out the prizes.

I *may* give additional entries to email list subscribers who leave substantial comments on any recent post.

I will draw the winners on Sunday and will send out the prizes next week. International readers are eligible.

Check out Twitter using the hashtag #BFSI to play along with all the fun. Take a look at Sandy’s post. Happy Sewing!

Black Friday Sew In Giveaway Announcement

Check out Twitter using the hashtag #BFSI

I have three prizes to giveaway for the Black Friday Sew-in: two patterns and a Design Ratio Tool, which is slightly used.

Feedburner Email option
Feedburner Email option

I don’t know what my schedule will be on Friday and I may not be able to monitor a complicated contest, thus in order to win here, you must be on the email list. Check the sidebar for the Feedburner subscribe widget and enter your email address.

If you already get the blog via email, you are already entered!

Sign up now!

You will nullify your entry if you unsubscribe before I send out the prizes.

I *may* give additional entries to subscribers who leave substantial comments on any recent post.

I will draw the winners on Sunday.

LDSI Report

I wasn’t a very good participant in the Labor Day Sew-in. I only made a half-hearted attempt at participating via social but I did sew like a demon. I had a goal of piecing the top to FOTY 2013 and making blocks for the donation top.

Journal Cover Front
Journal Cover Front

I accomplished my goals and made a bonus journal cover – not the whole cover, just the front, but I did it as leaders and enders while I put the rest of the quilt top together.

I have to get some new journals before I get to use this cover. I am going to try to just use ShapeFlex on both insides of this one. If I decide to use flannel, I will measure this time. 😉

BFSI Question #2 Review

This is the last of the BFSI questions. Question #2 had to do with things that Lark Crafts wants to know about their craft books and future craft books. The original question asked:

  • What type of quilting book would you like to see on the market that’s not already out there?
  • If you could publish your “dream” book on quilting, what would it cover? How would it be set up, etc? In other words, what would be most helpful to them?

If you do another kind of craft, you can answer the same question, just substitute your craft (knit, crochet, stuffies, etc) for quilt.

Question#2-1
What type of quilting book would you like to see on the market that’s not already out there?

Frankly, I would love to see a book called Very Hard Quilts and I would appreciate it being filled with difficult patterns, perhaps from some of the Kansas City Star quilt patterns that you never see even with the boldness of the modern quilters. A few years ago, Julie and I did a little test on a block called the Snowball Wreath. The pictures in the newspaper article show crazy templates. I have never seen a quilt made from this block, but it still haunts me. I want to do something with this block.

Kati R said “I’d like to see some more ideas on secondary patterns. I know there are some books out there, but most of them focus on beginners. Also I’d like to see one that teaches all the hand embroidery stitches which I’d love to learn.” I wonder if Kati has seen my book review of Stitched Blooms by Carina Envoldsen-Harris

Polly suggested “I’m a newer quilter, so there may be a book on this…but I haven’t found it yet. I need a book that tells how to DESIGN quilts. And it would need to include the elusive quilt math.   Yes, that is the type of book that I want now. A start to finish quilt designing book!”

Pam would like “… more on two-block quilts, which I think is in the same vein as Kati’s design book request. The Easy Street mystery that Bonnie Hunter did last year is a great example.”

Kelly wrote that she “… would love to see a book that lets me follow one quilter’s progress over several years. So I can see that what they are doing “now” (that is totally amazing to me) is achievable. Kind of like a five- to ten-year old blog in book form. lol

I think it would give me hope that I could make incredible quilts, and that it’s a journey. That the person I admire had some uh-oh moments, and maybe even an “ugly” quilt or two, before they really found their quilting voice.

Ohhhhh, or a quilt coloring book. Lots of pages of b/w line drawings that I could color in, cut out if I wanted, and just play. Maybe clear plastic/vinyl sheets in between pages so I could practice quilt designs, too!

Pretty sure my “dream” quilt book would be written by many authors and made up of several volumes — right now I’d love to be using the volume on ‘color and design’ — hmmmm. Maybe I’m describing the internet….lol”

Daisy Wreath had a great idea. She said “I definitely agree with the coloring book suggestion! I’d love to have an encyclopedia of blocks with a CD so I could print out scaled-down blocks and color them in.

I also wish there were more technique-focused books out there. It seems like there’s a much greater percentage of books out there that focus on entire quilt patterns. I’d love to find more books that teach a technique in detail and show different ways of applying it in a design…”

Diane (DDR Quilter) said “There are many new quilters coming into the quilting fold. I’d like to see a book of step by step photographic tutorials for quilt basics like making flying geese, etc. The internet is a wonderful resource full of many resources, but I think for many, a photographic resource book for certain basics could be a winner. My dream book would be one which discusses, depicts diversity of handwork. It would include such things as hand piecing, hand quilting with differentt threads, making and using hexagons , hand appliqué., embroidery., etc. Again, this would be a resource book with photographic or pictorial tutorials. Btw, I like all of the above comments. We all deserve to win. Whatever you bring to us, Lark Books, please keep on publishing books, real books!”

Question#2-2
If you could publish your “dream” book on quilting, what would it cover? How would it be set up, etc? In other words, what would be most helpful to them?

  • From me: spiral binding, index – a very detailed index, lots of photos or drawings
  • From Diane (DDR Quilter) – pictorial tutorials (pictorial or photographic)

What do you think? Has anything come to mind since I asked this question last Fall?

BFSI Question #6 Review

A few weeks ago a group of us had a Black Friday Sew-in, mostly on Twitter ( you can read the old tweets by searching for the #BFSI hashtag). I asked you a bunch of questions in order to give you the opportunity to win a bunch of books compliments of Lark Crafts. I thought it would be fun to recap your comments and think about them further. You can find the original post that coincides with this review on Friday November 29. You can also find more about the Black Friday Sew-in on the introduction post.

Question #6 was  a two part question:

If you had to teach someone how to do one quiltmaking technique, what would that be?

Here are the answers:

  • accurate cutting technique
  • quarter inch sewing/art of the scant quarter inch (this was mentioned a couple of times)
  • pressing (this also got a couple of mentions)
  • fabric selection as to type (cotton or blends) and quality, and grain lines.
  • foundation paper piecing (a couple of people mentioned this)
  • how to join your binding ends when they meet
  • how to thread a needle
  • liberated quilting techniques
  • how to buy fabric

I think it is so interesting that very basic techniques were mentioned most of all. The answers make me wonder if the way we, as a quiltmaking community, are being taught how to piece is not adequate? I realize that many people teach themselves, which is great, but it is hard to know what to learn when you have nobody showing you the little things. Perhaps there is an opportunity for a self-paced module based program that people could follow along themselves.

I have long been a proponent of learning using the making of a sampler quilt. I like that method, because if you go through the basic sampler blocks (see my quilt class tutorials for more information), you will learn almost all the techniques you need to to know to make almost any block in the future.

I know the problem in learning using sampler blocks -is that they take a long time to make into a quilt. The class I took was 18 weeks long, one block a week, plus an introduction, a couple weeks for quilting, binding, etc. I know it is good to harness the enthusiasm of someone who wants to learn, get them in front of the machine making a project as soon as possible so that they see success quickly and continue to sew.

Perhaps there is a happy medium?

What are the best tutorials for beginning techniques that you have found?

If you are a beginner, what would you want someone to teach you?

  • how to free motion quilt
  • machine applique
  • how to do nice mitered borders
  • learn to hand-stitch binding in person

Daisy W mentioned that learning to hand stitch a binding was hard to learn watching a video on YouTube. I haven’t watched any videos on binding, but I can imagine. I finally got binding down (making to stitching) one year when I finished 10 or so quilts. I did all the bindings and doing that made the details of the techniques stick in my head.

F&P Binding Tool
F&P Binding Tool

One part of the process with which I still struggle is the matching up of the ends. This is not something I learned in my beginning quilting class. I, actually, never knew it was possible until I saw a Fons & Porter Love of Quilting tool in a demo at BAMQG. Now I do that all the time as it makes the ends of the binding look so nice. There are no more giant lumps at the ends. I really struggle with getting it right. The directions are difficult and confusing.

Other skills people mentioned want to learn are:

  • how to join your binding ends when they meet

Jen wrote in a comment “I would really like to learn “quilting for show”, not necessarily because I want to enter shows, but because I’m always hearing how the binding has to be just so, and knots need to be buried, and judges get out their magnifying glasses and rulers, etc. What they are actually looking for exactly is beyond me and I would like to know.” I talked about this in the podcast with Pam (Episode #148). Why is it a secret what judge’s want in binding. I always get called out on my binding – miters aren’t up to snuff and my binding isn’t filled! ERGH! It makes me crazy, because I just don’t know what they want and I really do try and do my best.

  • continuous line free motion quilting

There are a lot of people who want to learn FMQ and I think there are a lot of tutorials, books and classes out there. I have heard good things about a Craftsy class on negative space quilting from various podcasters. I know my problem with FMQ is that I don’t practice. I think practice makes perfect.

For me, practice is hampered by my machine, my space, to a certain extent, but those are not excuses for not practicing.

Someone also mentioned not being interested in taking classes. I enjoy taking classes, because sometimes they are fantastic and send me spiraling off into a new direction, or solve a problem for me. Other times, I learn one new thing or learn I don’t want to do whatever they are teaching. Regardless, classes expand my horizons and I think they are valuable.

Black Friday Sew-in Work

Original Bullseye sleeve
Original Bullseye sleeve

I finally got myself together to make the sleeve for the Original Bullseye. I haven’t sewed it on yet, but that will be good for some evenings in front of the TV.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to making the sleeve. Except for piecing the fabric large enough to make the sleep, putting the sleeve together doesn’t take very long.

Needle Cases
Needle Cases

I also finished the needle cases I wanted to work on. I will give those as gifts, but I was pleased to be able to work out a few more of the kinks.

I tried using the flannel for the inside and that worked really well. It was still a little thick on the edges, but I could have trimmed the flannel a little smaller and that might have made the thickness at the edges a little thinner.

Instead of following the directions for the needle part of the needle case, I used a scrap of batting. I attached it with a piece of Perl cotton. I wanted to use felt, but didn’t have any. I’ll get a sheet of wool felt if I make any more of the needle cases.

Again, instead of putting binding on the needle cases, I turned them inside out then top stiched around the outside very close to the edge.

I have to be honest that I didn’t really get as much done as I had hoped, but I got enough done.

Black Friday Sew-in #6

The question for this giveaway is:

If you had to teach someone how to do one quiltmaking technique, what would that be?

If you are a beginner, what would you want someone to teach you?

More Chances to Win:

Mean Mom Stuff:

  1. Substantive comments only. “Sign me up” comments will not be entered.
  2. Comments on questions close tomorrow 11/30/2013 at 6pm PDT. I may not actually get to choose the winner until December 1, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm on 11/30.
  3. The books will be sent from Lark. I will send them the names and addresses and they will send you the book.
  4. Everything else is coming from me and will be shipped the week of December 2.
  5. International entries are welcome!
  6. I will select winners using the Random number generator.
  7. Make sure your email address works. If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your prize
  8. No whining, acting out, frowning or complaining. Whiners and complainers will be disqualified.

If you are looking for the Creative Prompt, look here: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2013/11/creative-prompt-235-meal/

Black Friday Sew-in #5

Update: Comments are closed and the winners for all of the BFSI giveaways have been chosen.

The question for this giveaway is:

Do you watch or listen while you sew? If so, what do you like to watch? To what do you like to listen?

For those of you who listen to the silence, tell me what you ‘hear’ in that silence.

The prizes for this giveaway are:

Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop
Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop

More Chances to Win:

Mean Mom Stuff:

  1. Substantive comments only. “Sign me up” comments will not be entered.
  2. Comments on questions close tomorrow 11/30/2013 at 6pm PDT. I may not actually get to choose the winner until December 1, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm on 11/30.
  3. The books will be sent from Lark. I will send them the names and addresses and they will send you the book.
  4. Everything else is coming from me and will be shipped the week of December 2.
  5. International entries are welcome!
  6. I will select winners using the Random number generator.
  7. Make sure your email address works. If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your prize
  8. No whining, acting out, frowning or complaining. Whiners and complainers will be disqualified.
  9. I may compile the responses and write a blog post, crediting you appropriately, of course.

If you are looking for the Creative Prompt, look here: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2013/11/creative-prompt-235-meal/

Black Friday Sew-in #4

Update: the comments are closed and the BFSI winners have been chosen. Check my other posts and come back next year for more prizes.

The question for this giveaway is:

With whom do you like to sew? Your guild? Your bee? Your small group? What do you like about sewing with that person or those people?

If you like sewing alone, tell me why.

If you like both, I’d love to hear when you sew alone and when you want to sew with people.

Your prize for this giveaway is:

Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits
Art Quilt Portfolio: People & Portraits

More Chances to Win:

Mean Mom Stuff:

  1. Substantive comments only. “Sign me up” comments will not be entered.
  2. Comments on questions close tomorrow 11/30/2013 at 6pm PDT. I may not actually get to choose the winner until December 1, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm on 11/30.
  3. The books will be sent from Lark. I will send them the names and addresses and they will send you the book.
  4. Everything else is coming from me and will be shipped the week of December 2.
  5. International entries are welcome!
  6. I will select winners using the Random number generator.
  7. Make sure your email address works. If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your prize
  8. No whining, acting out, frowning or complaining. Whiners and complainers will be disqualified.
  9. I may compile the information from this post and write a blog post later, crediting you appropriately, of course.

If you are looking for the Creative Prompt, look here: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2013/11/creative-prompt-235-meal/

Black Friday Sew-in #3

The question for this giveaway is:
Tell me about the guild or guilds to which you belong. Why do you belong? What do you like? What would you change?

If you do not belong to a guild or quilt group, why not?

Another Chance to Win:

Your prize for this giveaway is:

500 Art Quilts
500 Art Quilts

Mean Mom Stuff:

  1. Substantive comments only. “Sign me up” comments will not be entered.
  2. Comments on questions close tomorrow 11/30/2013 at 6pm PDT. I may not actually get to choose the winner until December 1, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm on 11/30.
  3. The books will be sent from Lark. I will send them the names and addresses and they will send you the book.
  4. Everything else is coming from me and will be shipped the week of December 2.
  5. International entries are welcome!
  6. I will select winners using the Random number generator.
  7. Make sure your email address works. If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your prize
  8. No whining, acting out, frowning or complaining. Whiners and complainers will be disqualified.
  9. I may compile the information from your answers and write a blog post. Of course, I will credit you appropriately.

If you are looking for the Creative Prompt, look here: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2013/11/creative-prompt-235-meal/

Black Friday Sew-in Giveaway #2

The question for this giveaway is:

Lark Crafts is always interested in your thoughts about quilt and craft books. To that end, answer the following question in as much detail as possible:

  • What type of quilting book would you like to see on the market that’s not already out there?
  • If you could publish your “dream” book on quilting, what would it cover? How would it be set up, etc? In other words, what would be most helpful to them?

If you do another kind of craft, you can answer the same question, just substitute your craft (knit, crochet, stuffies, etc) for quilt.

Prize (2 copies available):

Stitched Blooms
Stitched Blooms

Mean Mom Stuff:

  1. Substantive comments only. “Sign me up” comments will not be entered.
  2. Comments on questions close tomorrow 11/30/2013 at 6pm PDT. I may not actually get to choose the winner until December 1, but no whining if you can’t leave a comment at 6:01pm on 11/30.
  3. The books will be sent from Lark. I will send them the names and addresses and they will send you the book.
  4. Everything else is coming from me and will be shipped the week of December 2.
  5. International entries are welcome!
  6. I will select winners using the Random number generator.
  7. Make sure your email address works. If I can’t contact you, I can’t send you your prize!
  8. No whining, frowning or complaining. Whiners and complainers will be disqualified.
  9. Winners first name and last initial will be posted on this page
  10. Answers may be compiled for a future blog post. Last names will not be used.

If you are looking for the Creative Prompt, look here: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2013/11/creative-prompt-235-meal/