Thursday, December 31, 2009

Final Finishes for 2009

I've gotten 3 more small quilts basted today and quilted. So these will be my final finishes for 2009.  I just can't say enough about the quilting ability of my Janome 6600 MC.  I used 8 different threads in the course of quilting all of these quilts, in different combinations between the top and the bobbin, and this machine didn't miss a beat.  The only tension adjustment I had to make, and it was miniscule, was on the Crossed Canoes quilt when I had to use the light peach thread for the top and the dark teal in the bobbin.  Other than that, the machine had perfect tension no matter what thread I used and where I used it, whether it was inexpensive or top of the line. 

Batik Square in Square quilt - this was a sample I made in January 2004 for a beginning paper piecing class. Nothing like taking my time getting this one finished. I did a simple grid pattern with wide spaces so the quilting went pretty fast. This entire quilt was made with batiks, including the backing. I used a Coats and Clark variegated purple thread on the top and a blue 40 wt cotton Mettler thread on the back.

Swim with the Fishes - this was my project for the Quilt Camp in the Pines weekend that I attended in, ahem, May 2002. I don't know what the real name of the pattern is or who designed it, but I call it Swim with the Fishes.  I had the most horrible time with the paper piecing, partly because of my crappy sewing machine at the time, but I was so glad when this top was finally finished. I quilted it with gentle wavy lines that hopefully give the feeling of water. I used King Tut Jewel of the Nile both for the top and in the bobbin. This quilt is also made 100% from batiks. And as you can see, this quilt was thoroughly inspected by the resident Quality Control Manager.

The final completion for 2009 was Tequila Sunrise, a small quilt made with 9 Crossed Canoe blocks and once again, 100% in batiks.  Do you see a pattern here?  I used this block for one month of a paper piecing club I was leading at the time and really liked it so I made some extra and put together this little quilt.  I completed the quilt top in April 2005 and have finally gotten it quilted.  I did some simple outlining in each block, which involved a lot of starting and stopping, but achieved the look I wanted.  I did wavy lines in both borders.  I used Essentials "Teal" in the bobbin, a peach DMC  Embroidery Thread for the narrow peach border, and YLI McKenna Ryan thread in "Brook" for the rest of the quilting.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2 More Small Table Mats Quilted

Yesterday I completed the quilting on the second of two Christmas table mats made from the leftover blocks of the quilt that serves as my table cloth during the Christmas season. I quilted both of them with YLI "Festival" on the top and Essentials "Forest" in the bobbin. Once again, the Essentials thread quilted beautifully and of course the YLI was also super to use, as usual. I am just so pleased with the Essentials thread, particularly when you factor in the ultra economical price compared to the other threads out there. So far I've been able to find a matching color for the bobbin for all of the small quilts I've been quilting. The color palate is absolutely gorgeous!

I've got threads and quilting patterns selected for the next two quilts in the que, so I'm hoping to get them at least basted in the next day or two. I have one more solid day of work before I am on vacation until January 11th. I can't wait. I will relish every day off as I expect that there will be tax returns already coming in for prep the week I get back, in addition to the returns already in process for tax periods that ended prior to 12/31, and payroll filings due on 1/31. It definitely won't be slow again until after April 15th.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More quilts quilted!

I completely quilted one older top yesterday and got a second more than half done. When the bobbin ran out on the second, I decided to call it a day. I finished the second one up first thing this morning.

The first quilt I quilted was a simple single patch quilt that I made in March 2006 to use up some fabrics that I didn't love. I quilted in a wavy grid pattern using King Tut Caravan for the top and my normal Coats & Clark gray piecing thread in the bobbin, both 50 wt cotton. I bought the King Tut thread a year ago at a quilt shop close-out. I thought the color was quite ugly on the spool, but for 70% off I was willing to give it a try. It complemented this quilt perfectly.

The second quilt I quilted was a Mini 4 Patch quilt. This quilt started out as a mini Jewel Box quilt in June 2002. I didn't like the looks of it, so I repurposed the half-square triangle units into a mini flying geese quilt for my sister and the 4 patches became this little gem. The top has been complete since Oct 2006, so it was due for quilting. I quilted in an allover grid pattern using Essentials Thread color Plum for both the top and in the bobbin. I just received this thread for Christmas (thanks Jen!) and I really like it. It quilted up beautifully and the colors are stunning.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

UFO History and Recent Finishes

I was a serious cross stitcher before I became a quilter and had accumulated quite a list of stitched, but unfinished projects at the time I began quilting in 2001. My biggest barrier to finishing the pieces (i.e. framing, ornaments, etc.) was my fear that I would somehow ruin the piece in the finishing process. When I took up quilting, I had the same problem with my machine quilting skills. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I was paralyzed to do anything and so my quilt tops sat in a drawer unfinished. It didn't help that the first two machines that I used for my quilting for both less than adequate for machine quilting nor did I have any easy way to baste the quilts. Consequently, I dreaded the basting process, which is obviously a crucial step to getting to the actual quilting. I sent the large quilts to a longarmer, so fortunately those got finished, but the pile of small quilts continued to grow.

Soooo, in late 2005 I went through every nook and cranny and made a detailed list of every project that needed finishing. The grand total of UFO's was 107. About a handful merely involved putting a label on a finished quilt (a task I detest), but I put them on the list anyway in order to get the task done.

Every year after that I have updated my UFO list on or about January 1st and have slowly been bringing the overall total down and finishing old projects. My machine quilting skills began to improve dramatically when I purchased my Janome MC 6600 in July 2006, but I still had the basting problem to contend with. Enter Craigslist in January 2009 and my find of an old banquet table for $25. I jumped on that deal and now basting is a breeze. This year I basted and quilted a king size quilt on it with no problems. Granted, the quilting was all done with the walking foot, but that is good progress for me and I will continue to practice my free motion quilting skills on my small quilts.

I still have quite a number of UFO's on the list that have carried from the original list and I am committed to either finishing them entirely or making significant progress on them before the end of 2009.

So far in December I've completed the following:

  • Framed Marty's Sampler XS - stitched in 2004
  • Framed Scared Crow XS - stitched in 2006

  • Completed stitching and Mr. & Mrs. Claus Bowtie - this UFO is at least 10 years old

  • Finished the quilting on Long Tall - pieced in 2009

Long Tall is quilted!

I finished the quilting on Long Tall last night. Yeah! This is a huge quilt. Now to get it bound and on the bed. I think it's my favorite quilt made to date. I love everything about it. It is a Cozy Quilt Strip Club pattern. I generally design my own quilts and don't often make quilts from patterns, but this one I couldn't resist. The picture is of the unquilted top. I'll take a final picture once it is bound.

The Quality Control Team

Since this is a blog about quilting and pets (and probably some other hobbies and life thrown in too), I felt I should introduce you to the current quality control team. We have three full-time members and one that is semi-retired. Actually, I'm saying that to be kind to the semi-retired member as they never really did step up and do their job. Sigh. But, the other three more than make up for the slacking on the part of member #1. So, without further adieu, here are the current members of the quality control team.

Sammy, semi-retired

Sammy is her own cat and spends limited time interacting with the humans of the house and most definitely does not want to interact with the other animals, with the exception of Sassy, whom she tolerates, as evidenced by the picture. Sammy is the black and white kitty in the picture and Sassy is the calico. So, it's easy to see why Sammy has been kind of a slacker with her quality control duties.


We used to describe Tyrone as always into something, but since the addition of the two members below, we realize he's actually quilt calm compared to them. He mostly likes to inspect the finished quilts and generally can no longer be bothered with checking the steps between the start and the finish. On occasion he shows up for a surprise inspection, but doesn't stay long and rarely has any negative comments.


Echo is one of the newest members of the team, having replaced Nika, who passed on in October at the age of 19. Like Tyrone, Echo generally doesn't inspect much until you have a finished product, or close to a finished product. He and Tyrone both diligently inspect all quilts being quilted if they are left unattended at the sewing machine for very long. Echo also spends a lot of time sleeping on the finished products to ensure that they are soft and snuggly.


I guess you could describe Sassy as the Quality Control Manager since she wants to have her little nose in every step of the process. I have tried to explain that surprise inspections while I'm cutting fabric may not be the best plan if she prefers to keep her tail and all appendages intact. She is also diligent about inspecting all ironing of freshly washed fabric and the basting of quilts. She doesn't care much about inspecting the piecing at this point, except when the blocks are laid out on the bed for assembly.

So that's the current team. I'm sure you will continue to hear alot about them since all of the animals are in integral part of our daily life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Post

I spend so much time reading other people's blogs that I thought it was time to start my own. Certain times of the year, like January - April 15th, I probably won't post as much, but am hoping that I can keep up pretty regularly the rest of the year.