Monday, January 26, 2015

Soon To Be An Empty Nester

My youngest just turned 21 will be moving into her own place in March. So during her waiting time she has been going through her furniture and she decided to let go of her piano. Which in turn opened up space in my dining room, her moving motivated me to begin to look around and see what things I liked and what things I wanted to change.

We have decided that her room we are going to take over for our office and the office is where I will set up my sewing area. So with that in mind I have decided to convert my L-Shaped desk into my sewing area and will use it to sew on with two of my machines. I am also going to convert the old glass top desk into a light table and printing station. I have already turned a bookcase into my fabric storage area. And my large filing cabinet has been converted to hold my patterns. I will be going through the patterns soon and most likely selling the patterns I never used and getting rid of the others one. I have lots of quilting patterns that I need to go through and organize. I realized that I have accumulated almost as many quilt pdfs, as I have accumulated embroidery patterns. Hoarding craft ideas is just something I have always done. Either today or tomorrow I will measure the room and furniture for the room and begin to decide how to set it up. Fortunately it is only being moved from one room to another and I have already begun to clean up and clear out stuff. So it won't be that big of a disruption in my sewing schedule. The final move date will be in March, this weekend we went and got a chair for my husband for in the sewing room so he can sit and browse his computer while I finish up. It always amazes me that he continues to support and encourage my sewing and crafting needs. He is truly my muse, he inspires me and gives great fabric color choice advice, he helped me this weekend go outside of my color comfort zone. One day I might even use a big print fabric.

I also did manage to finish my Globetrotting Quilt top by Saturday as I planned. I added the additional 4 inch border on it. And I am in the process of piecing the back together now. I am not doing any particular pattern with the back, I am just attempting to use the remaining fabric that I used in the front to create the backing. All the fabric originally came from my fabric collection, I had to buy more off white and more black and white polka dot, but otherwise this quilt is as they call it a stash buster, makes me happy. And I have made progress on my pattern for an crocheted umbrella for upcoming soon to be niece's wedding.
Going outside of my comfort zone to try new things is something that I resisted for a long time, however, I find that I invariable learn and grow when I do attempt to go outside of my comfort zone.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pat Sloan's Globetrotting Quilt Along

Last year, I found a quilt along that I really wanted to try it was Pat Sloan's Globetrotting Quilt. At first it was a journey of trepidation and then it became a journey on precision. I wanted to work on cutting the pieces straight and as close to the right size as I could. Maybe I should have chosen a less complicated quilt along but you know I just don't roll that way. I choose a project by how much it screams at me to do it. And this screamed at me to do it. Now, I had a couple of goals, one was to cut as well as I could, two was to try and keep up, and three was to complete the quilt. I blew goal two because I did not figure on classes keeping me away from the sewing machine but hey you have to have a few failures in order to truly appreciate the successes.

I really like how Pat Sloan does her quilt alongs she gives detail cutting instructions and she also has a fabric line she uses for her quilt alongs. I am truly more of a solids kind of girl because I like to add my own embellishments, so I chose to do a black and cream quilt, I had a great deal of the fabric already on hand so it was pretty easy coming up with the colors I wanted to go with.

Here is the link to Pat Sloan's tutorials for the Globetrotting Quilt

And below is one of Pat Sloan's colorways of the quilt made in her fabric it is very bright and pretty isn't it. I could totally do a red, gray, and black version of this as well.

Another thing I like about Pat's tutorials is she walks you through the steps, which makes it really easy to follow. And she has a facebook page that she is constantly replying to questions and suggestions. She has a new Block of the Month started this month for 2015 it is called Vacation Time. Here is the link to that one as well:

I haven't started the Vacation Time yet but I do plan to right after I finish putting together the Globetrotting top. And that is the really exciting part. I am hoping that by Saturday, January 24, which just happens to be my daughter's 21st birthday as well, I will have the top completed.

The above picture is 3/4's of my blocks put together, and I did get one out of order but hey my goal was to cut better, and since I already blew the keeping up portion the third goal was to complete it. And I am doing pretty good with the 2 out of 3 thing. And for the most part I managed to hit the desired size on most of my blocks. I still have some work on finding that perfect 1/4" seam or scant 1/4" seam they all talk about. But I got quite a few points to line up and am pretty proud of myself as most of these blocks I have never made before.

This is a shot of all the border pieces I have cut and you see that white polkadot on black fabric that was such a heartache, those pieces are 2-1/2" by 6-1/2' pieces. I needed 54 of those pieces, yep you got it I ran out of fabric and I only needed 6 more pieces. So yesterday had to run to JoAnnes to see if I could find fabric similar as I bought this fabric years ago. Well, I found something similar but not close enough to just add the six pieces in, I will have to recut all 54 pieces, but what I will do is use all the remaining pieces from this quilt to piece together the back.

This is where I had to stop because I ran out of the fabric. I am confident though that I will be able to piece a nice backing with the remaining fabric from this adventure. I just keep repeating my motto of the year: "It's the journey not the destination that matters".

On another note, yesterday I also got a really nice trip to a lumber yard and while there I saw a tree trunk that was really cool. This particular lumber yard goes and gets trees that have fallen down or have been felled for safety reasons I guess so it is all pretty cool. But I grabbed a picture that I thought would be really cool if I could reproduce in fabric.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Time Gets Away From Me

I sometimes think that the time gods enjoy messing around in my life. I work really hard to get organized and do things in a timely manner. The problem is I never know how much time something is going to take. If it goes really well, no time at all. However, if I have to depend upon someone else to help me well then your looking at a whole different schedule. Now, my husband he is a meticulous man, he likes things nice and in order and that is how he works. Not surprising as he is in IT. He and I actually work quite well together. Now my daughter, well she can be a fanatic about her own belongings, but when it comes to doing something with others well she is less fanatic. My son, well he is like my daughter to some degree. So how do you get around having to manage other people's time schedule? Well, that is simpler said then done, according to others you work ahead. MMHMM!

Working ahead is really difficult when you have a full life. I began classes again on the 12th of January, originally I had 3 classes, registered several months ago for them. One of the classes required some big ticket items that I wasn't ready to purchase at this time, so bye-bye class. It would have been nice to know ahead of time about the big ticket items before hand. So, I quickly scanned the catalog and found another class to register in. Yep, you guessed it this is an accelerated class, however, that isn't too bad as I like the topic. But, because I just registered for the class I don't have the book yet. That is a problem. Then I have the one class I really wanted to take and that seems to be going ok, so far. The third class, I really thought I would enjoy, however, after attempting to read one chapter of 32 pages for the last week and a half. Yep, dropped the class. So what good is working ahead when your not sure what the outcome will be. And does it mean you should work ahead in everything you do?

I have found that there are areas in your life where you can't work ahead so the answer to the question is no you don't have to work ahead in everything you do. When scheduling look at the factors surrounding what your trying to do. If your baking a cake you know you have to have the ingredients to bake the cake and you only need to follow the directions and allot the amounted time as the directions tell you to. However, when your sewing or doing anything with a pattern in mind, your best bet is to break it down into sections. And due to my experiences so far this is how I have chosen to break my sections down.

The first thing I do when I am deciding on a project to do, I talk it over with my husband. He has great insight into how I actually do things, and he makes great suggestions. This section can take as long as it needs to, And if it is a project that doesn't really have a pattern it can take some time. There is no pressure here except what I put on myself.

The second thing I do, if I am using a pattern I gather the material. If I am not using a pattern then I am only guessing at what I think I need and sometimes my thoughts work and sometimes they don't. However, no matter what if I buy something for a specific project I have learned I need to put it all in one place. Either a ziploc bag or a plastic tote bin. I also need to write it down on the project notebook that I am doing, otherwise it is going to get lost or used for something else.

The third thing I do is prepare my material, that means if it needs to be prewashed, I do that, then I dry it and iron it to prepare for cutting. This in itself can take up to 2 days to do, depending on how much material I have. So give yourself the right amount of time.

The fourth thing I do is I begin to layout my design. With my embroidery work, I have found that I need several copies of the pattern, so if it is bigger then printer size I need to go to the copy center and get a couple of copies done. That will take at least a day.

The fifth thing I do is prep the material and break the work up into sections. And this step right here is where I begin to lose my time schedule. I allow a day or two to cut fabric all depends on how much right. But once I start to lose what I think is my time schedule well, then I begin to become anxious it isn't much at first but over time it grows.

The sixth thing I do is begin working, this step is where my anxiety really begins to grow. Not only because I feel at times that I take to much time but because I really want to see it finished.

So in reflection, time just gets away from me and I have to give myself a break and realize that Time takes Time. That the only schedule there is, is what is in front of you. So if your like me, slow down, enjoy the journey and quit trying to jump to the destination. I am beginning to think that my motto for 2015 is enjoy the journey, it isn't about the destination as that keeps popping up for me.

I am making progress on my project list from December 31, 2014 that I needed to finish.

Unfinished Projects

Quilting Projects

Globetrotting Quilt

Lonestar quilt

rag quilt -Just need to put binding on

Aurifil Quilt

Embroidery and Sewing Projects

Love Squares


Christmas Window Hanging- Sewing on the last pieces by hand.


Crocheting Projects 

Umbrella- Have gotten it to about 12 inches needs to be 36 inches

So with that I leave you with this saying. Found on the web.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday January 12, 2015

I wasn't able to get near as much done this past weekend as I had hoped to get done, I embroidered a gift for someone but I still need to complete it. I did get two BOM's done, these are for Elefantz's block of the month, here is the link to her blog:
I am starting 3 online classes this term and will still be doing my projects and hopefully updating my blog. I did figure out how I was going to finish one of my WIP's (works in progress). Got the pieces embroidered on the machine and just need to sew those down.

I have 4 of these to sew down and then this should be finished.
This is a corner block for Globetrotting

 The blocks for Globetrotting I still have 2 more corner blocks to do and two more blocks for the pattern itself and then I just have the sashing and border to do. Then to quilt it.

And finally my daughter sold her piano this weekend so now I have a possible spot for the Singer Treadle Machine that she bought for me.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What Material To Use?

 I have always enjoyed crafting it doesn't really matter what it is. I enjoy crocheting, sewing, quilting; my most loved craft is embroidery. Growing up I didn't have a lot of money to put towards my crafts, I could only get what fit within my budget. Sometimes, I simply had to use fabric from clothes that no longer fit me. There has always been material that worked or didn't work. However, I have always shied away from what they called high end fabrics. When you can make a meal for 4 for what it costs for 2 yards of high end quilting shop fabric, well you know the meal usually comes first. With this being said I have used the high quality fabric and if you can afford the fabric by all means get it. No matter what your budget is though you can make beauty with all levels of material. 

What is the difference between material at your local fabric shop, Joanne’s, Hancock’s, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and the Quilting shop fabric? I began a monthly quilting class this week and I heard a term I had never heard before or it didn't register when I did hear it, but the word was Greige goods (Greige is pronounced "gray"). Greige goods are the raw fabric before it is dyed and printed. Quilting fabric is usually 100% cotton with the ending of the Civil War the cost of Cotton began to increase and is still increasing. According to an article written by Josh Sager in April 2013 "it requires approximately 400 gallons of water to make a simple T-Shirt" that’s a lot of water, a standard bathtub only holds about 90 gallons of water. Now this may be an accurate quote or it may not but what it does show is that growing cotton is expensive.  This is a picture of cotton before it is harvested. For some reason this looks so nice and clean but you know with wind blowing, rain, smog and all the other things we have introduced to the air this just seems super clean to me and I just don't think it comes that way.

So once the cotton is taken from the fields it then needs to be cleaned and milled. You go from white cotton bolls to these big blocks of cotton smashed and bound together.

And here is a short video but a great video on how cotton is made into yarn or thread.

And another video that shows you how the yarn is turned into fabric. 

So what it comes down to is this each piece of fabric that is made with cotton is a woven piece of material. The quality depends on the thickness of the yarn used in the vertical and horizontal weave of the fabric. The horizontal weaves are called weft and the vertical weaves are called warp. If you were to take cotton sewing thread and cut 40 pieces approximately 10 inches long and weave 20 pieces horizontally through the other 20 pieces that were laid out vertically you would have a flimsy piece of fabric. But if you were to take 40 pieces of embroidery cotton floss and do the same thing your piece of fabric would be slightly thicker. This is the difference in fabric found in the different stores.

So the fabric at Walmart is made with a different thread type then what is made at Joanne's and a much different thread type is used within quilting shop fabric. The patterns, the colors, all play a part but it is the thread that is most important when we look at the difference in fabric. No matter what cotton fabric all begins the same way on a cotton plant. Once it is taken from the cotton field it is then processed the same way but then it gets sorted by quality and the better quality thread that is put into your high end fabric and the lower ends get divided into categories. 

So just like some people are able to quilt on a domestic machineothers are able to quilt on a mid-arm machine like aHandi-Quilter and still others can use a long arm machine like  Gammill. You have some people who can quilt on fabric from thrift stores, Walmart, and some who quilt with Joanne's, Hancock’s, and others who use nothing but Quilt Store fabrics. I believe that no matter what you use if you practice enough and work to improve each type of fabric has a beauty within it because it is the journey not the destination that is important. And to be honest I would not want to practice my stitching on fabric that 2 yards would buy a meal for my family. If once I have improved enough to step up a notch in fabric then I will.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What is the RIGHT Way?

Lately I have noticed that besides working on getting organized I am also willing to slow down and gather everything together prior to starting to work on something. I suppose that falls under the category of getting organized as well and yet I find myself slowing down while I am cutting. My desire to get that perfect cut. When I cut fabric, I have various tools that I use while doing so, I have mats, rulers, scissors, rotary cutter, exacto knives and now I have added the Brother's Scan and Cut. So much to learn how to use properly and efficiently and so often I wonder am I doing this right.

How do you know if your doing something right, if you ask someone else who uses the tool you will get a totally different way of using it, is it the right way though. I have attempted to read books, I have joined groups, and I have even begun to take classes all in the hope of learning the RIGHT Way. But what happens if your a lefty, do lefties look for the LEFT Way? I often wonder just what it will take to find that zone and just zoom like I see so many others doing.

Zooming while cutting though is definitely not the RIGHT or LEFT Way to do anything. Fabric is a creature with a mind of its own. Sometimes when I think of fabric I think of that book in Harry Potter used for the class Care of Magical Creatures.
Yep fabric is just like this book and the key according to Hagrid to opening this particular book was to stroke the spine. Fabric requires a great deal of stroking itself. You would think that when they cut the fabric off the bolt that it would be cut straight but, it isn't, certain fabrics can be torn and that will give you a much straighter edge and yet you still must stroke the fabric until it lays smoothly on your cutting surface. Then once you have stroked your fabric into complacency you must then place the ruler at the proper position to get the right size needed. Do you use the lines on the cutting mat or do you use the lines on the ruler to size up what you wish to cut. Furthermore did you know not every ruler is marked the same. You can not lay one ruler on top of another ruler and have them line up. The closest you can get is to lay one ruler on top of the other from the same manufacturer, yep folks the clue here is to use the same ruler for all your cutting on each project you do. So if you pick up a fisker ruler once and then you pick up an omnigrid your blocks will be off. However, back to the question of which line to use, I use the lines on the mat to line my fabric up straight and to give me a straight edge to measure from. I then use two rulers I measure the distance of what I want to cut lay my ruler or straight edge down and hold it and then use a second ruler to double check my measurement. Like the pictures below.

Having various cutting tools for cutting long strips and blocks I find a rotary cutter the best to use depending on the type of fabric and the size of the strips and blocks sometimes a large, med, or small rotary cutter is required. The more simpler strip but with lots of to cut the larger rotary is best. For standard cuts a medium rotary will work. however, the more complex a cut is it may be best to use a small rotary cutter. I find something really complex, something that accuracy is a must that a cutting machine one that uses dies or like what I have the Brothers Scan and Cut is probably best. If you are going to do a lot of standard cut an Accuquilt or Cricut may be a better choice for you. As far as which Rotary Cutter is best well you know that all comes down to What is the RIGHT and LEFT Way. 

What there is, is a preference everyone has a preference of how they like to do something and no one preference works for every single person. Play around with what feels the wrong way until you find the RIGHT or LEFT Way that works for you. I guarantee you that if you do enough playing around and enough questioning you will find that just like Forest Gump said: "Life is like a box of Chocolates", you just have to find the right chocolate for you.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Progress in the New Year

I have never really been able to make a declaration of what I intended to do in the New Year and see some results so quickly. This year though I can honestly say I have made some progress. On December 31, 2014, I made a list of projects that I had going and that I wanted to finish before starting any new ones.

This is my list from December 31, 2014:

Unfinished Projects

Quilting Projects

Globetrotting Quilt

2- Table Runners approximately 70" (length) X 20" (Width) -DONE

28 coasters -DONE

Lonestar quilt

rag quilt -1/2 way done

Aurifil Quilt

Embroidery and Sewing Projects

Love Squares


Christmas Window Hanging


Christmas Towels - Done

Crocheting Projects 


Easter Eggs -Done

As you can see there are 13 projects that are started but were not finished as of December 31,2014. I completed the 2 Table runners.

 I completed all the coasters:

The Easter Eggs I crocheted in the Spring of 2014 I believe and had not decided what I wanted to do with them well this weekend I made some decisions and here is the result.

So I am left with 9 projects 2 of which will take me awhile to do Smaug is hand embroidered so I am estimating at least a year on him. And the other is a 36" in diameter hand crocheted thread umbrella top. I am making good progress on it but I still estimate at least another 3 months.

And even though I have gotten material for new projects I wish to start I have labeled those and placed them into containers to be started once I have finished some of the other projects I have listed above. All in all a good start to a new year.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Still On The Path To Organization

It's a New Year and I am still working on organization,if you are like me then you constantly have thoughts pop into your head. Those thoughts could be while your driving, cooking, cleaning, or even sleeping. Sometimes those thoughts are so vivid and so persistent that you know if you don't get them out of your head they are going to float around and around until you are consumed by them. You know you just have to do this project and then boom you go to get the material and the thought is now all jumbled and you forget that perfect vision. Because of this major affliction of mine, I have tried various methods of keeping these ideas in my head in some kind of easy clear method. Keeping these ideas in my head just didn't work.I had to devise a method that would keep the thoughts somewhat clear and for me that meant starting a collection which included so many different things. Just so you know besides the computer, groups, facebook, files, Pin Interest, Bookmarks and so forth I have taken a snapshot of a few more methods that I have used.
Yep, there are 9 other ways I have attempted to get the thoughts clear and concise, I have used a phone and a tablet to store pdfs, pictures. I have used post-it notes which I must tell you they are very easy to lose. The others are various forms of journals and they all have their pro's and con's.  I have found that it is best if I keep one by my bed, one in my bag, one on my sewing table, one on the living room coffee table, one in my kitchen. For me I needed not only a journal to write in but one to draw in, paste in, color in. I am still working on this form of containment and I don't have a clear direction of which way is best for me. I know I have lots of tutorials, pdfs, bookmarks much more than I will ever use I am sure. I know because of the lack of clutter the computer has become my favorite method of containment, however, I don't like not being able to easily find what I am looking for. So I am still in the process of searching for that perfect method for me of containing my ideas and my wants.

Yep it is just not an easy thing for me to keep track of all the thoughts and ideas that flow through my brain. My husband says that is because I am an "Artist" mind you he makes word sound like a mix of a Texas drawl and a Parisian accent. I know that he truly means this and believes it. I find that I can't go to a meeting or a class without taking some form of work with me. When I go to a long meeting I tend to take my crocheted work with to do. It is amazing to me how many people say they use to do it but no longer can because of this reason or that reason. For me I simply must do it, it is a driven compulsion, of course what do you do with all the products well for me that is not an easy thing to do, I love making it but I hate selling myself. So I am slowly but surely building up a great supply of items. And as I see someone or something that suits my item somehow it always seems to go there. For me it is all about the creation of it.

On The last day of 2014, I gathered up my notebook and I wrote down all of my current projects that were in progress and I wrote a list of projects that I want to do. On the list of my current projects I am in the process of looking at what I want done asap and what I know will take some time to do. I am thinking that this is the best way for me to do my projects. I have also made a list of projects that I know I want to do.  Tomorrow I will show you the list of my projects and I will go back through my posts and hopefully show updates of those projects at least mention if they are completed or not. 

As I mentioned to someone last night it isn't about the destination folks it is all about the journey.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 1, 2015 Yep its a New Year- How will you store your thread?

In 1974, I got a few skeins of  white and black J & P Coats  Embroidery Floss. I was so excited, I had no idea how to embroidery and sewing didn't seem like it would be something I would pick up on easily but how I loved thread and fabric. Every chance I got I would pick up a new embroidery kit at the time I did pre-printed patterns that came with the thread. I did these kits religiously, eventually I grew to buy transfer patterns and the fabric and thread to create my own color version of the design. And I began to accumulate what those who craft call a stash. Yep, I kept everything, it wasn't that it cost a lot to get my crafting supplies it was that the money I used was precious. Survival items were more important and I didn't have a lot of extra funds to go towards crafting.

So  how did I store my precious thread and fabric, you might ask. In the beginning, I would wrap the fabric with the hoop around the few small skeins of thread that I had. Then once I started buying the kits I kept it within the plastic bag that the kit came in. Then as I began to accumulate my stash, I progressed to plastic tubs. You see how this is going right, you start out small and what you can afford and soon you have this snowball effect. I would love to say that my snowball effects looked like this:
Ya n, it looked like this and trust me today, I know that the amount of time I took unwinding, and dismantling knots, was an artform in and of itself. 
 So, how did I change this, well I started my mission in attempting to be more organized. I don't have any pictures of what the thread looked like before I began my mission so I have found an image off google to show how the thread looked when it was bought. From this:
I went to rolling my thread onto small cardboard pieces and they looked like this, you will also see some newer plastic pieces as well and one that is simply cut from a piece of card stock: 
From this idea I then went to putting my thread on large clasping O-Rings:

From this I went to ziplock bags and yes this has a little hole cut in the bag with a hole punch and it is connected to a clasping O-ring:
From the ziplock bags I went to partitioned plastic bins like this:
From the partitioned bins I went to this, and this is a specialty thread case that is a fabric notebook with thread sleeves and long thin thread rolls that fit into the plastic sleeves:
No, my thread collection isn't only embroidery thread and mind you I still do all of the above mentioned methods to store my embroidery floss. And this is how I store my crochet thread:
This is my machine embroidery thread:

 My serger thread:

 And last but not least my preferred method of storing my thread in completed projects. This piece is one that took me 3 years to do it is all done by hand no machine work here at all. It is a photo of my husbands and my first Halloween date. It is done on white satin with Rayon and Cotton Floss, The original photo is kept with this piece. The embroidery work is 17" X 17" and the completed framed and matted piece is 30" X 27 1/2".

You see no matter how much money you have or how you keep your thread the best way to keep the thread is in my opinion to use it. Find what works for you and your budget and just create. Even if you can only afford a few skeins these are easily transported and you can work on them during breaks at work, while your watching T.V. the goal is no matter how much you have use it as much as you can.