Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A sewing day...

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to get together with a good friend for a day of sewing and fellowship.  To be honest, we did a lot more of the latter than the former.  I had a bunch of small tasks I was hoping to complete and my friend was trying to finish the smocking on a dress.  She makes a gown whenever someone she knows is expecting a baby.  I've never tried smocking, but she does beautiful work...

Smocking along the top and sleeves
I had hoped to piece the backing for this king-size quilt and to load another one on the frame.  I've never had so much trouble sewing a backing together before.  It's a pretty simple process - cut 3 pieces of fabric and sew them together along the long sides.  It must have taken me 2 hours to finish it, because for some reason, I was all klutzy about it.

Loading another quilt on the frame took just as long too.  First, I thought the backing fabric wasn't large enough, so I add a piece to it.  However, when I finally got it loaded, I discovered it was the right size to begin with - I just couldn't add correctly!  By the end of the day, I did manage to get it to the point where I can start quilting on it.  This one is intended to be a gift for my brother-in-law for Christmas...

Another quilt loaded on the frame
Other than a small amount of handwork at night, I haven't had a chance to do any other quilting for the last 2 weeks.  This is mainly because I had some minor surgery a week ago and the recovery has severely limited my ability to do anything other than rest.

I remember thinking before the surgery how much I would enjoy being able to rest and relax while I was recovering.  However, for someone who is always on the go, I'm finding the enforced downtime to be more difficult than I anticipated.  Hopefully this won't last too long and things can get back to normal!

Some members of the family are really enjoying the downtime and having me home all day...

Jack, Gabriel and Sam (in the background)
Until later...

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. 
Psalm 13:5-6 (NLT)

Monday, November 21, 2011


I'm finally sitting down to write a post about the quilt I've been working on since October 8th.  Not only do I want to write about it so I can look back years later, but also because there are several tips that might be helpful for anyone else deciding to make this same quilt.  The pattern is 45 and Life to Go by Lisa Bongean and can be found at Primitive Gatherings.  I bought a kit from them that also uses fabrics designed by Lisa Bongean.  (She's multitalented!)

Pattern and kit from Primitive Gatherings
There were things that I really liked about this pattern, but also a couple I didn't.  Let's start with the positive.  There are 5 steps to this quilt and she explains each of them very clearly and includes plenty of piecing diagrams.

It's a bit different from most of the patterns I've used, because she has you cut the fabric and sew it at each step instead of doing all your cutting up front.  I found it refreshing to do it that way.  For example, Step 1 had you cutting strips out of all your fabrics to make a total of 45 - 25 patches.  To be honest, this was the first time I've made anything bigger than a 16-patch, but it was easy...

Stack of 25-patches
Step 2 had you make a bunch of Flying Geese units.  Although normally I would make mine over-size and then cut them down, I was a little nervous about running out of fabric (more about that later), so I used her directions.  It's a neat way to make them and still fairly accurate, but nothing is as precise as cutting them down (IMO).  Here's a quick little slide show of how to do it. (I believe this is called the No Waste Method of making Flying Geese.)

Place 2 squares on top of a larger square and sew 1/4" on either side of the center line.
Cut apart down the center line.
Press the triangles up.
Add another square to the opposite corner and sew 1/4" on either side of the center line.
Again, cut down the center line.
Press the triangle open and ta da, you have your Flying Goose!
I like that this method results in 4 Flying Geese.  Between Step 2 and 3 in the pattern, I needed to make 180 of them and they went together pretty quickly.  Then by pairing the Flying Geese with the 25-patches and a few squares, I ended up with the star blocks that make up half the quilt.  There are 40 of the dark ones and 5 of the light...

The final 2 steps were to make HST's and QST's.  After all those star blocks, these just flew together lickety split!  And finally, here are all the blocks for the quilt, just waiting to be arranged...

On a side note, all of my star blocks ended up 1/8" smaller than they were supposed to be, so I had to cut down all of my HST's and QST's too.  Fortunately, it didn't take long, but that's why my quilt is 109" square rather then the 110" in the pattern.  (It's also why I always like to make my Flying Geese larger and then cut them down.)

By now you're probably tired of reading and would like to see the finished quilt top, huh?  OK, here it is lying on my bed...

45 and Life to Go Quilt Top
I really do need to think of a new name for this.  Any suggestions?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this incredibly long post, there were a couple of problems with this pattern too.  I loved that she broke the cutting and sewing into steps, but the ordering was a little problematic (and I even tried to plan ahead).  Step 1 has you cutting a bunch of strips (which was no problem).  However, steps 2 & 3 have you cut a bunch of small squares, and steps 4 & 5 have you cut a bunch of large squares.  But with no cutting diagram, by the time you get to the last couple of steps, you might not have enough fabric to get all of your large squares.  In fact, I ran short one 10 & 7/8" square, but fortunately I had a FQ bundle of the same fabric I could steal it from.  If I hadn't been concerned about this happening and readjusted my cutting order, I might have been short even more!  I just don't know.

So for anyone reading this who plans to make this quilt, I suggest you switch up the steps.  Do Step 1 first, followed by Step 5, Step 4, Step 2 and finally Step 3.  You might have enough fabric if you follow this order.

Another note, I had plenty of the light color fabric left, it was just the black ones that were the issue.  You could also make sure you have another quarter yard of each dark fabric and you'll probably be just fine too.  She does say on her pattern that she assumes your fabric has 44" of useable width, but really, how often do you see that?  I even used her fabrics and didn't have that available.

So ultimately, would I make this quilt again?  Absolutely!  I love the pattern and it went together beautifully.  And if I do make it again, I'll just make sure I change my cutting/sewing order and have a little bit of extra fabric on hand.  Also, I'll probably make my Flying Geese larger and cut them down.

And if you made it to the end of this incredibly long post, thank you for sticking around.  I'm very, very impressed with your stick-to-it-iveness!  Your reward is a picture of my cat Jack on top of a pile of fabric...

Until later...

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Philippians 4-6 (NLT)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stash Report Week #44 - 46...

October 29 - November 18, 2011

I've gotten behind on these reports again, but that's OK 'cause not much has happened.  I finally ordered the backing for 3 quilts.  It's 2 bolts of Little Gatherings or the equivalent of 18 yards...

Backing for 3 Quilts
It took a while to wash and press that much fabric.  I really appreciated having such a wide ironing board (that my wonderful husband made for me) while I was doing it.  Fortunately the cats were off napping somewhere as well!

Pressing the backing fabric
And I finished the quilt top (that I've been meaning to blog about for weeks now and one day I'll finally get around to it) that also uses the same fabric line.  The top is ~109" square and used 16 yards of fabric...

45 and Life to Go quilt top
Please excuse the bad picture.  I laid it on my bed and the sun was doing funny things that day.

Purchased-this-week: 18 yards
Used-this-week: 16 yards
Purchased-to-date: 381.5 yards
Used-to-date: 512.75 yards
Net used: 131.25 yards

Until later....

No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 
1 John 4:12 (NLT)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A quick stop...

Hi guys!  For weeks, I've been meaning to tell you all about the quilt I've been working on lately.  In fact, just today I finished piecing the top.  It's 109" square, so it's a big one.  However, I'm just too tired to write about it tonight.  So for now I'm going to share a few pictures of one of my furbabies.  This is Moses...

Moses taking a nap
If you're having a little trouble making her out, she's the lump in the bed.  Her 'thing' is to crawl underneath the covers to sleep during the day.  At night, she likes to stake out a spot on top of me.  Here's a slightly better angle...

Another picture of Moses snoozing
She must think she's invisible under there.  When she's not sleeping (which is most of the time), she enjoys watching the birds and squirrels out the back door.

Moses after some TV time
She kept coming closer while I was snapping pictures until I ended up with this...

Moses - a closeup
She's such an incredibly sweet, highly neurotic cat and I just adore her!

Until later... (hopefully that means soon)

Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  
Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A quick note...

Hi guys!  Sorry for my absence lately, but I've been taken over with a project right now.  Nothing sewing related, but it's been consuming most of my time and will probably continue to do so for the next week.

I have managed to finish all the blocks for the 45 and Life to Go quilt.  As soon as I can find time, I'll be back with pictures.  I'm really pleased with how it's coming along.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a group photo.  My cats have recently become wickedly addicted to a new cat treat called Crispies.  They gather around me like moths to a flame whenever I pull out the bag.

Sam, Jack, Moses and David
I hope you're all doing well and having a blessed and peaceful week!

Until later...

Do not be fooled. Bad companions ruin good character.”  
1 Corinthians 15:33 (TEV)