Posts Tagged ‘finishing projects’

Unexpected Victories

March 18, 2020

This is a quilt I made as a class sample but never finished because I didn’t know how I wanted to quilt it. I no longer teach the class, so there wasn’t much incentive to put it at the top of the pile. Well, it worked its way up. “Self,” I said, “just start quilting. The pattern will reveal itself.” I decided to let the fabric tell me what it wanted, which worked fine until I got to the vegetable appliques. Since the fusible interfacing was well past its prime, I had to do something fast just to keep the fabric in place. I decided to make little circles all around the pieces, with the intention of incorporating them into a more interesting design later on.

When I finished with the circles, I realized they were interesting enough on their own. These unexpected victories give me the courage to dive deeper into the unfinished quilts pile. You never know when something wonderful will surface.

Happy anniversary, Mom!

Unearthing History in the Sewing Room

March 11, 2020

I was preparing to baste another bunch of quilt tops and ran across one that just stumped me. Most of them came from a stack I had ready with batting and backs cut to size, and most of them are quilt old. So old, in fact, I couldn’t figure out why I had put such a hideous border on the quilt pictured above. It took longer than I would like to admit before I realized that the ugly beige stuff is extra fabric I attached so the border wouldn’t get distorted when I hand-quilted the top. I guess I’d better get more diligent with finishing up my UFOs so that no one else has to figure out what the heck I planned to do if they draw the short straw on cleaning out my sewing room.

Luck and wisdom!

A Small Triumph

January 22, 2020

Somewhat against the odds, I completed the first item on the sewing room to-do list by binding and labeling this quilt. I started it last year and used it as my project for The Progressive Party. They made the top and quilted it for me (thank you, Jami!).

Jami quilted lady bugs

I also cleared off the ironing board, so now I have room to press the top and backing that is first in the queue for me to quilt. My plan is to get that started, then baste the next quilt so it is ready to go, and continue leapfrogging from quilting to basting until all the tops in the stack are finished. That may be more than I can ask of my concentration and diligence, but this small triumph has given me an energy boost and I intend to use it.

Luck and wisdom!

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!