Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sew many quilts, Sew little time

Wow, I can't believe it has been two weeks since I have written! I wonder what I have forgotten about blogging. I wish I could report that I have been busy quilting, but there has been very little of that. My 90 year old neighbor died last week and we have been busy with his widow. I also had a trip out of town last week and I found a few hours to work in the garden.
The church ladies have just about finished the Christmas/raffle quilt. They decided to add another row. So that means we put off cutting the scraps for another month. Here is another picture of a scrap quilt one of our gals made from squares someone else had cut out and donated.

The only quilting I can report that I have done is that I finally started a grandmothers flower garden. I can't believe I have because I have seen very few of them that I like. I hope I will be pleased with mine. As it progresses I will show a picture or two.
I haven't put any time on my longarm either. Every time I am away from it for a few weeks I fear I will need to Practice all over again. Then I hear very experienced longarm quilters still practice before starting an important project or when they try new techniques or designs, or maybe just warm up a little before beginning work on a "real" quilt. I have even heard that hand quilters "warm up" on a practice piece before they move to the "real" quilt - each time they sit down to quilt! I t must be the competitive award winning quilters that do that. Sometimes all I have time for in a day is the time some people take to practice.
I hope to be quilting a bit more soon so I will have something to blog about. Otherwise I may have to continue to show more charity quilts or some of my old pieces. Or maybe I will give you a sneak peek at one of the quilts I am working on for a future book. Till then, sew long.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Scrap Central

So I got out all the scraps that belongs to church to organize them for the ladies. I keep them sorted pretty much like I have my own sorted, except I don't cut or keep triangles for our comfort quilts. Actually we can use any strip width and I just adjust all the pieces in the quilt accordingly. To keep cutting at a minimum, I use widths in 1/2" or full inch increments 2 1/2" through 6 1/2". I have a collection of patterns that I can use with all these widths. After the ladies cut the scraps into strips, I assemble kits. The quilter is responsible for the rest of the cutting. Occasionally I do some fussy cutting. Anything under 2 1/2" can be used for string piecing. This picture shows one variation of our simple scrap comfort quilts.

We inherited quite a bit of fabric this year. Our scraps alone fill two 18 gallon tubs. And they are all kept flat and stacked! It would have been nice if we were given yardage for backs. We usually end up piecing them.
What did I have to do to organize them? Well, first I had to gather them. I had to sort through 4 other tubs of fabric. Generally as I acquire it I toss it into a tub. If we are given sleazy thin fabric I only use it for backs, if at all. The stuff just frays too much to be cut into small pieces. I also collect orphan blocks for samplers. Sometimes I sort the scraps by character. I usually call it by "generation", because it is not uncommon for us to get some older stuff. But I will separate the stuff by style for more pleasing quits. Good light background fabric is a rarity so I keep that separate and choose for quilts carefully. Under 1/2 yard is usually considered a scrap, unless it coordinates really well with a difficult fabric.
I sort, organize and kit our fabric about every 8 months. Then I am at it for a week straight. At one time I belonged to a guild that had a committee that made charity quilts. I don't know that they ever organized their scraps. They just collected fabric and had a pile of patterns. It was up to each quilter to choose pattern and fabric. That seemed to take more time. I organize most of the quilts. The ladies love it, particularly when it's mostly cut out. Occasionally I also bag up coordinating fabric with no pattern. Some of the fabric is difficult to find complementary fabrics for so when I find them, I bag them. This way the gals that want to be creative and choose their own design can do so. I do keep most of the fabric at my house.
I will call a few of the gals to be sure we have enough equipment at the meeting. Some of the gals will be finishing up the raffle quilt. There are always 2 or 3 basting quilts. Maybe 4 or 5 will cut.
If anyone is looking for suggestions on how to organize their scraps or ladies I'd say start with gathering fabric and patterns. For patterns we generally use designs with just squares and rectangles. If triangles are needed we usually use the folded corner technique. There are lots of common designs that can use the standard 2 1/2", 4 1/2" & 6 1/2" strips. It might be best to start there. Then sort the fabric, lights and darks. Mediums will depend on the design. AS for getting the gals to volunteer to get involved making comfort quilts, well, good luck. It isn't for everyone. I do it because I love every aspect of it : the fabric, cutting, kitting etc. Can you tell?
Here is another one using 2 1/2" strips and 4 1/2" squares.
That's it for now. Sew long.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sorting Scraps

I finally got my basket of scraps sorted. The scraps have been slowly piling up for several months now. I usually get around to it sooner but this was an unusual winter. I've never been happier with my organized scraps than this winter when I had surgery and couldn't cut fabric for months. But I could still sew. All I had to do was pick a couple of boxes off the shelf, choose a pattern and start sewing. Actually, choosing the pattern is the hard part, but that hardly required the use of my arm.

My scraps are now all sorted and stored in boxes in the closet. I have boxes for 6 widths of strips and 3 sizes of squares and 3 sizes of triangles. And a few more besides, like 1930's. The boxes on the upper shelf are mostly PHD's (Projects Half Done).

I still have a bag of little scraps I was given at a retreat this spring. What a mess. Mom is willing to sort, iron and organize them all. And I am going to take her up on the offer. What fun to use someone else's scraps. I am going to plan another odd width log cabin. This time I will use smaller pieces, though not miniatures! I fear that would drive me over the edge.
I think I will pull out all the church's scrap fabric and get it ready for the ladies to cut next week. That should be a project.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wedding quilt plans

I helped a student plan a medallion quilt today using my Thirtysomething technique. The pattern for the central portion is in my book, Thirtysomething. I suggested in the book that I thought it would make a great center for a medallion. I guess Rita thought so too.  It turned out pretty good. This is an Electric Quilt drawing. What a great piece of software. It saved me at least a full week of work on the book I am working on compared to the software I used before.

Our church Raffle quilt is coming along slowly. It happens every year when four of our members fly south for the winter. That is okay. There is plenty of time to finish it. I have it all spread out on the flannel wall so A: I can show you the progress and B: so it is easier to organize it to get finished later.

My scraps are piling up, so I'll plan to work on them next.  I will have to show you how I organize them and get back to you on that.

Thanks for stopping by. Sew Long.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Document it!

It seems you can tell spring is here. many of the blogs are quiet. I imagine everyone is out in their gardens, like me. We finally have had some pleasant weather and I feel "caught up" with my gardening. My mind never wanders far from quilting. I have gotten a little quilting done too. In fact, I started a new PHD. Then I realized I don't really know enough about applique to start this project. So just for the sake of documenting when I started this project, here is a picture of what I have so far. Kinda silly I know, but things like this blog can be quite motivating and I thought it would help me if I showed you that I finally had an idea how to use this fabric I got probably 12 or more years ago. So I have some strips cut, I have an idea and now I have to plan to learn how to applique.
I want to do the cut and past type of applique for this project. I can do needleturn, but don't want that. I have a few books on the subject, so thought I would experiment with technique and make a few small pieces - sorta like the journal pages. I don't know when I will fit this in the schedule. I have a pile of quilting that needs to get done for the next book and of course, I have to write the patterns for it. I know I prefer WonderUnder and I want to do raw edge for this, not the zigzaggy finish. There, now that I put it out there for the world to see, it will be interesting to see how long these items are on the long list. I am tryng to tell myself that those little journal pages take no time at all. Is that true?