Posts Tagged ‘finishing projects’

The Great Wall of Quilt Tops

October 23, 2019

So the good news is I bought some nice batting on sale and decided to rough cut the batt for the four small quilts I need to finish. The bad news is I have more than four tops in the stack. This I did not know. I really thought there were only four in the stack, but there might be six. It’s hard to tell, because the tops get squeezed together. Looking at the layers is like touring a coal mine. I’m certain if I leave those tops unquilted much longer they’ll be compressed into diamonds. This is especially true if I continue to put the batting and tops together on top of the pile.


Here is the view from my sewing machine at the moment. I have a better understanding of what the soldiers who fought in the trenches of France during World War I must have felt. The good news is these quilts are small – and I have a deadline.


The better news is I cleared out the floor of the sewing room closet for the first time in years. I’m hoping I can keep it clear for a little longer, but just this week an item I thought was going away needs to be stored for a little longer. It is on the ironing board right now, but it can’t live there and I have no place else to put it but in the closet. On the floor. The once clean floor. Ah, well.

Luck and wisdom!

Squirrel Buttons

July 24, 2019

The birdhouse block with squirrel buttons

I found another orphan block that will make a wonderful display block for the Amador Valley Quilters collection. I suspect I intended the block to be the center of a baby quilt for a friend who loved squirrels, but since her baby is now in graduate school I’m giving myself permission to abandon that quilt.

The block was a perfect summer project. Even without high humidity, holding a quilt on one’s lap for binding and embellishing when the temperature is hovering around 100 isn’t as much fun as it sounds. I also got to use a card of squirrel buttons that I’ve been moving from one to pile to another for several years, and that makes me very happy.

Now for a glass of iced tea, which I will sip in the coolest corner of the house.

Luck and wisdom!

The Story of the Kangaroo

July 3, 2019

I am unearthing the projects I couldn’t figure out how to finish or how to let go. Not all of them are obviously special, except to me. Here is an example.

The reasons I made this kangaroo block are lost in the mists of time. I recall that I drew the pattern myself, and that I hand embroidered the blanket stitch around the edge. Beyond that, I’ve got nothing. Even so, as I took this block out of the bag, part of me wanted to keep it.

“Self,” I said, “don’t even think about saving this block. Yes, it’s cute. Yes, you spent a lot of time on it. However, you don’t have a purpose for it, and someone else could enjoy it.”

I pulled some blues from my scrap pile and am in the middle of auditioning them for a log cabin-ish border around the kangaroo. I’ll probably surround that with a checkerboard. If I’m lucky, I’ll have enough of something within easy reach that is appropriate for a final border. It will be a quilt for a small child, so I won’t need much. The backing will be more of the fabric I used as a background for the kangaroo block. Once I put on that final border, I’ll have talked myself into happily letting it go for a charity quilt. After all, by then it will be one more project off the piles!

Luck and wisdom!

Deco Done Wright

June 5, 2019

The binding is on one of my Projects in Piles (PIPs), and it is labeled, so I can check it off the list. This is Deco Done Wright, a project that began with a coloring exercise.

Betty Busby had some of these Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired printed squares at an Art Quilt Santa Fe retreat. I used Derwent Inktense pencils to color in parts of my square, then put it away for “the perfect project.” Since that never comes around, no matter how long I wait, I pulled it out for my quilting buddies in the Progressive Party to finish. They did such a great job I put the project away again because I didn’t know how to quilt it. When I started my PIPs challenge, I decided I would combine hand and machine quilting.

Once again, the power of a deadline came to the rescue and I now have a wonderful quilt. Force yourself to finish things. Setting a deadline works for me – find the way that works for you. You’ll feel a foot taller without the weight of unfinished projects on your shoulders.

Luck and wisdom!

Old School Approach to My PIPs

May 15, 2019

Since a great many of my PIPs (projects in piles) will become donation quilts, I’m revisiting traditional patterns for the fabric collections. As it happens, I own quite a few pattern books – but I can’t reach them. The PIPs are in front of the shelves. Luckily, the guild sells old magazines to help buy batting and labels for our outreach program. I came home with an armload and started going through them.

Here is a pattern that will work well with some of my orphan blocks. The classic four-block center with interesting borders is always a winner.

I’ve always loved this pattern, but have never had the patience to complete all the blocks necessary for a decent size quilt. I’m thinking I could pull out one fabric collection and make blocks until I get bored, then work on another project.

If you are sitting on a pile of fabrics that haven’t told you what they want to become, and have a collection of old magazines (the one above is from 1994!), flip through the pages and see what pops out. Send me a picture when you’re done.

Luck and wisdom!

Waiting for the Reveal

April 10, 2019

I am making progress with the PIPs (Projects in Piles), but nothing to photograph. Luckily, the front yard is in the process of blooming, which illustrates the way I feel about the last couple of weeks of work. I put borders on three UFOs (UnFinished Objects), and made backs for them. I suppose I could photograph the tops but I would prefer to wait until they are done. They’ll be donated when completed, but before I can get to the quilting I need to finish a few simple sewing projects. In the meantime, I will enjoy the message of the flowers – patience + perseverance = progress.

Luck and wisdom!

Display Block Doggie

April 3, 2019

I took a workshop from Nancy Brown last month. She does beautiful hand applique, and teaches her students how to get the same results. Here is the dog I made from her Labrador Retriever pattern.

I knew I would never get a full quilt out of this one block, and didn’t feel like keeping it around until I get through my other projects and can make brothers and sisters for old Blackie here. Instead, it will become a Display Block for my guild’s collection. These blocks go up at our guild outreach events, at local libraries, wherever we are offered a chance to talk about quilting. It’s much better for someone else to enjoy the block than for it to languish at the bottom of one of my piles, yes?

Luck and wisdom!

The New Challenge Begins

February 27, 2019

I finally decided how to approach my new challenge to finish half of the projects I can reach. Since most of my projects are in random stacks I’m calling this the PIPs Challenge – Projects in Piles. Many of those stacks are on the floor, so that’s where I’m starting. Rather than trying to catalog the projects ahead of time, I’ll see what I find when I peel off the next layer. The top you see began with four demonstration blocks and a collection of fabric that had a watery theme. The main border fabric reminds me of a swimming pool.

I’m hoping that a side-effect of working through the piles on the floor first will be that I can reach the projects at the bottom of my shelves. Those of you who have seen my studio know this is not a trivial task. Some of those projects have been waiting there so long they may have evolved into something else, perhaps with language skills and a higher devotion to tidiness than I have achieved. I’ll keep you posted.

Luck and wisdom!

Completing the Challenge!

February 20, 2019

I am working on the last project for the guild’s Unfinished Quilt Challenge. This is actually project 14 on my original list of 18. I turned one project into a tote bag and one project was shared early by mistake, so I’m completing more than 12 projects in this year-long challenge.

This top started with a square that my grandmother had marked to embroider. She used the famous blue pen, which is supposed to wash out but probably won’t as it has been sitting there for at least 25 years.

I may attempt to take out the blue dots by carefully applying water with a cotton swab. If that doesn’t work, I can always bead over them, or just keep them as a design element that will anchor the piece in a specific time of quilt history. As long as I’m finished, I’m going to be happy with it.

Luck and wisdom!

The 3 Laws of Scrap Dynamics

November 21, 2018

I have completed twenty (20!) projects since beginning the Unfinished Quilt Challenge, with no real increase in storage space apparent in my sewing room. It seems that there are laws of scrap dynamics at play here.

Law 1

Scraps are the logical and inevitable result of creativity. No matter how tidy your original stack of fabrics, it will always result in an unruly collection of leftover pieces (even if the project is completed). Since this is going to be your fate, embrace the mess.

Law 2

You can’t get rid of scraps on your own. The picture above is the fourth top to come out of a collection of pink and brown fabrics that I figured would be used up in one quilt. The key here is to find someone or something to help. The Unfinished Quilt Challenge has encouraged me to use any and all leftovers in donation quilts. That has given me the courage to continue piecing tops and backs from collections that by all rights should be used up by now, and to tell the committee that distributes donation quilts that I will have several ready for them after the first of the year.

Law 3

Scraps and creativity exist in equilibrium. The more creative you are, the more scraps you have, or find. I thought I would be clever and use some scraps from other projects in this top. I thought I would clear out one scrap bag (I used maybe a quarter of a yard), and I found a forgotten bag of scraps tucked behind the one I was raiding.

For me, the moral of the story is unclear. Perhaps one of you has a sure-fire way of getting rid of scraps?

Luck and wisdom!