Monday, January 23, 2017

Finished Current Projects & Progress on an old UFO

I have made sure to spend time in my sewing room every day since getting home from the retreat and I have finishes to show for it!  Actually one of the finishes came in the truck on a road trip to pick up the 1000 square feet of flooring that we purchased, but a finish is a finish no matter where it happens!

I was on a roll with the Dancing 9 Patch top, so I kept going and not only got the top finished, but I also have the backing made.  I have a huge pile of unquilted tops, so one of my goals this year is to try and quilt each top as it's finished.  Sometimes quilts need to sit for awhile before quilting to figure out what will look best or just because you are so sick of the top by then that you can't stand to look at it for one more second LOL.  I'm still excited about the Dancing 9 Patch top, so I want to strike while the iron is hot.  I have plenty of batting on hand, so I just need to get that cut and the quilt basted so I can start the quilting.

Here is the finished top followed by the quilting design that I have decided on.  It really is true that if you practice a design over and over by drawing it on paper, that WILL translate to quilting your quilt.  I did the same thing when I was trying to learn an allover swirl quilting design and now I'm trying it with another design.  I've seen this one referred to as headbands and mussels and I'm sure there are plenty of other names for it as well.  I get huge pieces of packing paper in with my fabric shipments and I realized last week that they would be perfect for practicing doodling allover quilting designs.

The finish I mentioned came in the form of sewing down the binding on this small quilt that I pieced in 2015 and quilted last year.  It was one of them that got the swirl quilting.  It's a disappearing 9 patch pattern.  I got the entire binding sewn down in about 2 hours of our 3 hours of road time going to and from Fargo for our flooring.  I was shocked at how fast it went and realized that quilts with batik binding seem to take me much longer to sew down as the tighter weave makes it more difficult to push the needle through, even with the use of a thimble.   But I will still use my beloved batiks :-).

I have also been slogging along with updating my UFO lists and creating a detailed list in a notebook with all of the steps/materials needed to complete the project.  One of the quilts in progress was a pineapple quilt.  It's hard to really call it a quilt in progress when all it consisted of was 6 pineapple quilt blocks barely started.  I do still have a large pineapple quilt on my "must make" list, but in the spirit of getting something done with these barely started blocks right now, I decided to finish them all and make a small table runner out of them.  I got 5 of the 6 done before I called it quits last night.  Digging through bags of scraps for just the right pieces was so. much. fun.  Now I actually do want to start a large pineapple quilt lol.  But I will wait on that until I put a bigger dent in that pile of quilt tops to be quilted as well as other UFOs.  Pictured below are a couple of blocks in progress, the five finished blocks and my piles of scraps.

Finally, on a quick note about quilt shop business, it's the time of the month that our latest Fabric Club selections are posted.  We currently have three clubs - a Fat Quarter Club, a One Third Yard Club and starting this month, a Half Yard Club.  In each case, you get six coordinated batik fabrics in the cut size applicable to the club you are in.  This month we have grays and turquoises and the fabric selections are below.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Quilting Retreat Weekend!

Quilting Retreats are always conducive for me getting things done and this past weekend was no exception.  I left on Friday for the drive back to Grand Forks for a day long quilting retreat the next day.  One of my quilting friends graciously offered me a warm bed for Friday and Saturday night so I could continue coming to these retreats, which are held every 2-3 months at a church in Grand Forks.  These particular retreats are so popular that once you make it on to the list, you want to stay on the list!  I haven't missed a retreat since I was lucky enough to get in to the first one I attended in March 2015 :-).

For this retreat I took along two small quilts to be quilted and two piecing projects.  I got both of the quilting projects done and made good progress on one of the piecing projects.  The other one never saw the light of day :-).

The first quilt I got quilted was this little strippy string quilt that I pieced last year.  I need to write up some instructions for it that I will share whenever I get them done.  No promises on when that will be :-).  It's not a difficult quilt to piece and you can probably figure it out from the picture and this write-up.  The starting point was leftover ATM machine paper (we used to fill ATMs for our BIL), which is 3 inches wide, and my tins of short strings.  I foundation pieced strings on to the ATM paper in segments of various lengths.  I added chunks of 3 inch strips from the strip bins between the string segments in order to break things up a bit.  Finally, I added narrow sashing between the vertical strips to add some stability to all of those small strings.  The strips were cut 1 inch wide.  Even WITH those stabilizing strips, the poor little quilt developed a leaning problem.  I was able to correct most of the lean with a good basting job and the quilting.  For the quilting I just did randomly placed straight lines.  I start with a drawing a longer line from somewhere in the upper left corner that goes somewhere in the neighborhood of the lower right corner.  I've included a couple of close-up pictures of the quilting below.

The other quilt that I got quilted was a small batik postage stamp quilt.  A second one the same size is in process.  They were supposed to be for our night stands, but I'm not sure they work with our bedroom at the new house, so I will finish them both up and decide then.  They were still fun to make and used up a lot of little batik scraps.  The individual squares finish at 1 inch.  One of the closeup pics has a quarter on the quilt to show the size of the squares.

Once the quilts were quilted I moved on to one of my piecing projects.  Long, long ago I participated in a swap of 2" wide strips of Christmas fabric.  I made the quilt we were supposed to make with the strips, which was a nine patch and hour glass.  But I still had so many strips left that I made a bunch more nine patches and they have been sitting in a plastic storage box just waiting to be used.  And waiting.  Enter Bonnie Hunter's Dancing Nine Patch pattern.  It was PERFECT for getting these blocks into a quilt.  And it's free!  Bonnie has tons of free patterns on her Quiltville website so be sure and check them out.  I didn't get all of the blocks pieced at the retreat, but I was able to finish them up yesterday except for the one I put together wrong which was un-sewn and re-sewn today along with the last block that I didn't think I needed yesterday.  So here they are all laid out and ready to sew into a top.  It looks like a square layout is the way to go.  The main border fabric will be the same as the constant used in the quilt center.

Finally, I finished the stitching on the cross stitch project I've been working on while I was hanging out with my friend I stayed with.  I got my initials and the date on the piece this morning and gave it a good pressing.  This piece is Christmas Zipper by Bent Creek.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Finishes

I started the year strong thanks to classes and retreats, but then summer hit with gardening and spending time outside and then suddenly we were unexpectedly moving.  The good news is that I did get a lot of quilt tops completed last year even if they didn't ultimately turn into completed quilts.  I already had a pile of unquilted tops, so I guess we know what needs to be the priority in 2017!  Of course, I also just packed and unpacked my personal stash and it's very obvious that a lot more tops need to be pieced as well if I have any hope of making a dent.  At least with all of the projects at the new house and the money required to complete them, I am not even remotely tempted to add anymore fabric to my already huge stash lol.

So on to my 2016 finishes.  January 2016 was pretty productive.  I taught a class for our Guild with my 2 Hour Table Runner pattern and completed a red, black and white version while demo-ing the steps for the class.  I got it quilted a few months later and binding completed in September.  I also got the binding sewn down for the two Floating Four Patch quilts that I had quilted in 2015, so those two little quilts are done, done.

In February I attended a retreat, which is always conducive for getting things done.  I actually got my Black & White Bargello top completed before the retreat so I would have it for Show & Tell.  As a bonus, I also was able to take my Bargello top to a Quilting Cocoon I attended in Naperville in April and get a picture of the quilt top with Bonnie Hunter, the designer of the pattern I used.  It's a free pattern and you can find it here.  During the retreat I pieced my Prairie Stroll top using a collection of fabrics I had purchased when I started quilting in 2001, so I was happy to finally have them into a completed quilt top.  This was a pattern from an issue of Quiltmaker magazine from 2001.  Also at retreat, I pieced a quick little table runner that is a free pattern on the Timeless Treasures Reef Charm Pack.

In March I finished my Mysterious top from a class I took with Doug Leko in February.  This was a great quilt to make!  It's one of those blocks that can result in a multitude of layout possibilities that all look very different.  I also finished a couple of trivets made from orphan blocks.  I like to practice my machine quilting on orphan blocks and turn them into trivets or potholders.

April brought the previously mentioned Quilting Cocoon held in Naperville, IL.  This was a great event set up by Craftours and featured classes with four national/international instructors.  Bonnie Hunter was one of them and while I haven't made any real progress on the class I took from her in April, I did manage to get my Texas Tumbleweeds top completed during the Cocoon and got a picture of the top with Bonnie and myself.  Texas Tumbleweeds was the class I had taken on a Quilting Cruise in November 2014.  The pattern can be found in her More Adventures with Leaders and Enders book and you can purchase it directly from Bonnie here

I also completed this little strippy strings top that will be donated once it's completed.  I had short strings I wanted to use so I sewed them onto leftover rolls of paper from the ATMs we used to fill.  I do plan to write up the instructions at some point, but haven't gotten to that yet.  Perhaps that will be a blog post when I finally get this top quilted and bound.  The top does have a bit of a left leaning problem, but I think I will be able to remedy that with a the quilting.

Finally, I finished  sewing down the binding on another of my 2 Hour Table Runners in April.  I call this one the "Caribbean" runner.

The next few months of quilting time were filled with a special project for which I got the top completed in July.  My FIL passed away in 2014 and I am using his shirts to make quilts for my husband and his sister.  I finished his sister's quilt top in July.  It is a combination of string pieced blocks and applique.  I used the quilt Angel Kisses from the Strips and Strings book by Evelyn Sloppy as inspiration for the quilt and for the applique patterns.

While in the throes of buying a house, selling a house and packing to move, I needed some mindless sewing to keep my sanity.  I had received some free strips with my Island Batik orders, so some 16 patch blocks using matching pairs of the strips was just what I needed.  I trimmed the strips to 2 1/2 inches wide for my blocks.  A quick tutorial on piecing 16 patch blocks will likely be one of my future blog posts although there are plenty such tutorials already out there :-).  So here is my 16 patch top.  It's a small top that will be great for a child.  Once I get it quilted and bound it will be donated.

And the final finish for 2016 happened on December 31, 2016 at about 11 p.m. as I put the final stitches in the binding of my Jingle Table Runner.  This was a free pattern on the Jingle charm pack from Timeless Treasures.  I added borders because I wanted a wider runner.  The piecing was super easy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New Shop!

2016 turned out to be a big year of changes for us, with the biggest being our unplanned relocation to Park Rapids, MN.  We fell into the opportunity to purchase our dream home on a lake just outside Park Rapids and included in the dream home was a very large separate space for the quilt shop, with built in bookcases and a layout that I couldn't have designed better if I had done it myself.  So we took the big leap, made an offer on the dream home in early August, put ours on the market a few weeks later, moved me and the quilt shop to the new home at the end of October, and completed the move in early December after the closing on our Grand Forks home.  It has been a whirlwind to say the least, but when God opens a door for you and shows you a clear path, you have to take that leap of faith and just go with it.  My husband had to leave his full time job of over 31 years, but there is so much more that we can do with the quilt shop at our new location and I will need help to get it all done.  I have been working on my list of goals for the business in 2017 and while they are ambitious, I think they are achievable with some hard work on our part.

So on to the new shop!  The rest of this post is going to be pic heavy, so sit back and relax while I take you on the virtual tour :-).  

The back of the house and deck.  All of those windows overlooking the deck are the quilt shop space.

The yard has wildlife visitors of some sort every day.  This trio consisting of a doe and two of her babies are frequent visitors to the backyard.

Built in bookcases that were the perfect size for bolts of fabric.  Lots and lots of bookcases with room for lots and lots of bolts.  No, this isn't even all of the bookcases. There are more to come down further in this post.

The double sided bookcase that we moved from the old house and which was a perfect fit for this corner space in the shop.

Narrow bookcase that we previously used in our old kitchen for extra storage now fits perfectly against a short wall in the quilt shop and is also just the right size for our black and white fabrics.

We also moved these 3 cabinets from the old house.  Two had previously been used in the shop and the third was used in the basement bathroom for storage. The bathrooms in the new house have tons of storage, so we were able to reunite all three cabinets, which fit this wall perfectly and cover the media center spaces that were used by the previous owners.  We did make good use of the glass shelves in the media center and are using them to store the bolts ends that have been removed from skinny bolts.  The top sections house precuts perfectly and the rest has plenty of room to showcase our pastel batiks.

Our tall bookcase we moved from the old house and which fit perfectly on the narrow wall next to the wet bar area.  We desperately need to restock our solid batiks, but Anthology is in the midst of their own big changes and the shipment that came in December was only about 25% of what they were expecting, so we are waiting as well to get these solid shelves filled back up.

As promised, here are more built in bookcases.  There is another group of five tucked into a corner near the back windows.  The natural light in the shop is amazing!!  I have my old cutting table and mat set up in that corner for cutting shop orders.

The pool table that came with the house.  What does a pool table have to do with a quilt shop, you say?  Well if you have a handy husband that can build a removable top, you have yourselves one really awesome and huge cutting table!  The pool table is situated near the large section of bookcases and the wet bar and it has two skylights plus a large light fixture right over it, so perfect for cutting out a quilt or for playing pool :-).  It will be really handy when we start hosting quilt retreats.  More on that below.

Pool table converted to a cutting table just like that.  The cutting mats are not yet taped down to the plywood.  I scored 3 of these on Veteran's Day at Joanns for 60% off each thanks to coupons.  That made each mat just $30 including sales tax.  So basically I paid for one and got the other two for free.  Can't beat that!

Retreat space!  One of the biggest opportunities with the purchase of this house is the ability to host small quilt retreats.  We already had three 8 foot long banquet tables and a smaller 6 foot long one that I used in the old shop.  The other 3 were purchased for plans that never panned out at the old house, but they are exactly what we need for quilt retreats.  We actually need one more, but that can wait for now.  One of the 8 foot tables is now my desk set up in front of the 3 part window with the half moon window above.  The last picture in the post will show you the view I now have every day as opposed to the basement wall that I had previously.  It's quite an upgrade lol.

The far corner in the picture below is where my cutting table is set up and the side that is closest is where two of the 8 foot tables are set up for retreat sewing.  That area is just in front of the pastel bolts I showed previously.  Have I mentioned that the natural light is amazing????  There are also tons of recessed lights, as well as other lighting, so plenty of light even after dark.

The wet bar area just off where the double sided bookcase now sits.  There is also a half bath that is opposite the window on the other side of the wet bar.  The cabinets in the wet bar area now give me plenty of space to store shipping supplies such as tape and envelopes, as well other miscellaneous shop items.

And finally, this is the view out the back windows of the shop space that I look at every day from my desk and  that will also be the view for quilters sewing at retreats.  We are living in God's country for sure :-).  We have some work to do before we can host retreats, including getting two of the four bedrooms down the hall from the shop painted and set up with beds, etc., but we will get there!  We also need to refinish and repair the deck before we can use it as a separate entrance for the shop during the non winter months.  And we have a huge list of projects to complete for the rest of the house as well.  We got a great deal on the price because there is flooring and painting to be done pretty much everywhere but the quilt shop, as well as some other updating and remodeling, including remodel of both of the full bathrooms.  The quilt shop area was just added in 2008, so it was move in ready, which was the most important so that our regular online business could continue as usual.