Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Christmas Countdown

It's less than two months until Christmas. I haven't started my Christmas shopping and I have NO idea what to buy my kiddos. I have a zillion things to do between now and the end of the year.

But none of this stops me from being super excited about the upcoming Christmas decorating. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas decorating. I may be known for going a teeny bit over the top, but that's my issue, okay?

Now you also know I love fabric, right? So you would think I would love Christmas fabrics. Actually, not so much. It's a little like the Mocha thing - I love coffee and chocolate, but not mocha. Go figure.

To be perfectly honest, I don't really love buying fabrics that I can only use for one time of year. Totally my personal opinion here. But this doesn't mean I don't love Christmas sewing. I just like making fabric from my stash double duty as Christmas fabrics.

So I've signed up to be part of the Sew Seasonal Blog Hop, featuring the designs of the fabulously talented Kristy of Quiet Play and Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts. And I'll be taking one of Alyce's gorgeous designs and showing you how to use non-seasonal fabrics in a Christmas-cheery way.

I'm helping get the party started this very Friday, which means I'd better get sewing! If you'd like to see what I turn this very-festive-but-not-Christmas-fabric selection into, be sure to pop back.

And don't forget to visit the other blog hoppers!

1st November: Kristy from Quiet Play & Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts
2nd November: Marieka from Bespoke Bites & Jane from Where Jane Creates
3rd November: Susan from Patchwork N Play & Kelsey from Kelsey Sews
4th November: Janice from Better Off Thread & Erin from Missy Mac Creations
5th November: Lucy from Charm About You & Rebecca from Making Rebecca Lynn
6th November: Charlotte from Lawson and Lotti & Amy from Amy's Crafty Shenanigans
7th November: Jess from the Elven Garden & Cindy from Live a Colorful Life
8th November: Elaine from Dashasel Sews & Kelly from Jeliquilts
9th November: Beth from Plum and June & Fiona from Finding Fifth
10th November: Juliet from Tartan Kiwi & Fiona from Celtic Thistle Stitches
11th November: Taryn from Pixels to Patchwork & Anorina from Samelia's Mum
12th November: Megan from Jaffa Quilts & Jane from QuiltJane 
13th November: Gemma from Pretty Bobbins

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Happy Harry

I have started my Harry Potter bookshelf quilt! 

And I really would like to say that I wish every aspect of quilting was THIS MUCH FUN. I mean, I love quilting, but some bits of the process are a bit tedious and production line-ish....

Not this project, each block is a delight. I am having the best time with this project. I spend my days looking forward to getting home to the sewing machine. 

I love digging through my scrap bins searching for just the right fabrics for each block. 

I love paper piecing intricate blocks and watching them all come together.

I love my kids coming in each morning to see if there are any more Harry blocks on the design wall.

I have discovered the alphabet stitch on my machine. I mean, I knew it was there, but in five years of having this machine, I never bothered with it. But I was looking at the Harry Potter book list that is included in the quilt pattern - not the list of the novels, but the list of textbooks they use at Hogwarts - and I thought it would be a nice touch to embroider some titles on the books. But no way was I hand embroidering... which was enough motivation to learn how to do it on the machine. It's so fun!

I have done nine of the 30 blocks, so nearly two rows. I am sewing together as I go for greater sense of achievement. Some of the blocks are fiddly, but none of them are too hard. And because it tends to alternate a tricky block with a simple book block, you can get one or two done in one sewing session. I like it when things come together relatively quickly. 

The free patterns for this quilt, which was originally a 30 week mystery project, can be found here

I am in love!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Stash

There's nothing new for me to report on the Sunday Stash front this week, so I'm going to elaborate on some fabric I got recently.

A while ago I shared that I was given some old fabric at quilt group. And by old fabric, I mean 90s calicos and the like. One of the ladies had been given a big box of fabric and offered it to us all, and who can say no to free fabric? We all went fabric diving and came up with some goodies.

Seriously, I know that fabric has come a long way since the 90s, but there are some nice pieces in the mix.  I found quite a few lovely prints, as did the other girls. I scored quite a few solids, and some nice prints that will work well in my stash. I like to look at every piece of fabric on its own merit, disregarding how 'old' or 'dated' it might be.

I got these solids - you can never have too many solids. Small pieces, but I do a lot of scrappy stuff so they're perfect.

And these prints, there are some nice blenders in there.

I have a thing for butterflies, so I liked these.

Some low-volumy stuff for backgrounds etc.

I thought this print was cool, a bit watermarky.

Some of my favourite prints. There is some pretty here!

And this is the Harry collection. I also have plans to make a paper pieced Harry Potter quilt and I was a bit worried about where I'd find suitable fabrics to make all those Hogwarty bits. But once we started looking for suitable pieces in the box with that project in mind, we came up with some real gems. The girls were literally throwing fabric at me for capes, bricks, beards, wands... I ended up with quite a good collection for that project - woody bits, grassy bits, the perfect grey for Dumbledore's beard, some capey pieces. I've stashed those bits away in their own bag for when I start that particular quilt. 

As usual, linking up with Sunday Stash

Friday, October 12, 2012

100 Day Hustle - Day 20 Update

Eeek, another 10 days have gone by on the 100 Day Hustle, only 80 to go now!

It's been a pretty productive few days (especially considering I've been back at work for 5 of them) so I'm pleased. I'm pretty well maintaining my focus.

1. Keep sewing space tidy: relatively successful - I have a few fabrics to put away

2. No new fabric bought: Nothing new has entered this house. I have however destashed a ton of vintage sheet FQs!

3. No new projects: Success! (Though I did pin a ton of Christmas ideas on my Pinterest board.)

4. Finish fabric storage boxes: Not yet, but I did finish cutting the vintage sheets that I intend to use the scraps on for this, so no more excuses to procrastinate on this).

5. Finish Phoebe's bed quilt: No progress.

6. Finish piecing at least 5 current tops: I am working on my red/black/white chevron quilt. It's tedious and I'm not feeling the love, but I am persisting.

Don't mind the filthy ironing board, it's from a love affair with spray starch. 
And yes, it says 'ironing bored' all over it :).
 I also did my polaroid blocks for a swap which will turn into a fundraiser quilt.

7. Finish quilting and binding at least 5 quilts: I basted and began quilting my 1930s Improved Nine Patch. I'm probably 1/4 way through the quilting.

8. Empty mending/refashioning basket: No progress. Are you sure this won't just go away on its own?

9: Keep on top of swap blocks and BOMs: One swap block to do for October, still heaps of time.

10. Finish smaller craft projects: No progress.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

WIP Wednesday - the quality control team

Every quilter needs a quality control team. Diligent testers who will monitor the process from the purchase of fabric right through to the ongoing suitability of the quilt for its intended purpose.

These boys are my sewing room quality control team - Flash and Bolt. No fabric is left unfurred. All finished quilts are laid upon on a regular basis.

And while I am quilting my latest project - which is actually not from lately at all, but rather an unfinished quilt top from about 9 years ago. It's an Improved Nine Patch in 1930s reproductions from an Aunt Grace anniversary collection.

I'm not sure why I held off on this project so long. At first I thought I wanted it hand quilted, then I realised I just don't get time to hand quilt these days. I decided to stipple it because with all those curves the piecing isn't perfect so I wanted a forgiving pattern. I am a little nervous about the scalloped binding... maybe that's why I've been putting it off.

The boys are carefully checking it's suitable for fighting on, washing on and ignoring each other on.

Bolt is also inspecting my quilting progress and ensuring it stays where I leave it between quilting sessions.

Do you have any little helpers in your sewing room?
Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Tetris TGIFF

Call me old school, but I loved Tetris back in the day. Such a great, simple game. So of course, when I saw this Tetris quilt along with Melissa at Happy Quilting, I had to play along.

It was serendipitous as I'd just participated in a rainbow charm square swap and I knew I was about to get back four sets of rainbow charms, the absolute perfect number for this quilt. I don't normally work with charms, but I was very pleased with how quickly it came together. 

For the first few weeks I didn't have the fabric, so I just played along with my coloured pencils, designing as I went. Then I got my fabric and got mostly caught up. But then pesky life got in the way and this quilt sat on the backburner for a little while. I managed to finish piecing it a few weeks ago and last weekend I sat down and quilted it. 

I opted for straight line quilting around each 'piece' to accentuate the tetris shapes. I also opted for a simple black border and backing, and for the first time ever I bound it using the backing fabric - easy peasy lemon squeezy!

My first quilt crossed off the 100 Day Hustle list!

This quilt is destined for the spare bed cat's day bed in our study - an apt place for a computer themed quilt, I think.

Linking up with TGIFF

And Finish it up Friday at  Crazy Mom Quilts

Thursday, October 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday - The BOM Bonanza

I am excited that I'm almost totally caught up with block of the month quilts. I've been doing the Blogger BOM and the Craftsy BOM and both of them finish with the block making side this month. I was a couple of months behind, so this week I've made three Blogger blocks and five Craftsy blocks (still have one to go).

Blogger BOM, in cool scraps.

Craftsy BOM in Hoopla by Moda
This means that when the setting/ quilt top construction details come up next month, I'll be ready to go! Yay!
I'm not sure how I feel about BOM quilts, I have learnt a lot doing these, but I don't really like having projects on the go for so long with fabric in reserve for them. Maybe I'll feel differently when I get my WIPs under control.

I am feeling a little better about the epic WIP list (thanks for the reassuring comments, good to know I'm not alone!), and I just plan on taking it one baby step at a time. What more can I do, right? I might start laundry listing them in future WIP Wednesdays, if that's not too scary!

I recently signed up for a polaroid block swap, totally a 'all the other girls are doing it' moment, because I need another I-Spy quilt like a hole in the head, but the blocks are sooooo darn cute! I've decided to make a little wallhanging when I get the blocks back and donate it to the preschool where I work as a raffle quilt.It's good to have a potential home for that one.

And I've been working on a rainbow/low volume scrap quilt for a while now with no particular purpose in mind, but I'm desperate for a quilted chair in my sewing room (because everyone needs one of them, right?)  and I have the perfect chair for the job... sounds like a match made in heaven!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Don't Want To Be That Girl Anymore

I am a non-finisher. I am easily distracted. I have way too many UFOs and WIPs. And I don't want to play like that anymore!

I might joke about having Quilter's ADHD, but to be honest, I really wouldn't be surprised if I had some level of honest-to-God ADHD. I know I've always struggled with procrastinating and finishing things, because I have the letter my 5th grade teacher sent my mum on the subject.

So I've been having a super productive few days - I finished quilting and binding a quilt, I got 10 bee and BOM blocks done, I sorted some more scraps.... and then I look at my project list to move the finished quilt and I realise I still have an immense number of half finished projects in progress. I stared at that list and wondered where the heck I even start. It wasn't fun.

I have to say, I am really glad I am being motivated by the 100-Day Hustle. We're at day 10 today and I'm doing alright. I can tick off one of the five quilts I wanted to have quilted and bound, at least. I added keeping up with bee blocks to my hustle list and I am happy to say I am mostly caught up. While I have added my mum's quilt to the list, I am very easily resisting any quiltalongs or new projects I am seeing online. 

One thing about machine quilting is that it gives you plenty of thinking time. While I was quilting, I was pondering my creative goals for the next year. I know I want to get everything that's hanging over my head finished ASAP, and then start fresh, one or two projects at a time. I don't want to be the girl with a million WIPs. I have to-do lists in every other aspect of my life, I don't want it for my creative outlet. 

I did start (and finish!) a quick little project today before I started block sewing - a new heat pack. I saw this cute one over at Pomegranate Quilts and thought she was just genius to make a heat pack you could tie on - certainly easier than trying to balance it when you get off the couch to raid the fridge for chocolate. It was a very quick project, and since I woke up with quite a headache this morning I have put it to good use already today. 

I really want to free up my sewing time so I can make more useful little things like this without feeling guilty I'm not tackling that to-do list. 

Do you ever get like this with your WIPs? Does your creative life ever become a chore when the to do list gets too much?

Jane xx