Sewing with my quilt club each month is always a great start to the weekend.
I am using my quilt club sewing days to work on veterans quilts for the next several months. I started this one last month and finished it this weekend. It's ready for quilting but I don't know if it will get quilted before we leave for vacation in August. I have a couple more quilts ahead of this.
Back at home my first priority was to finish cutting up ALL of my patriotic fabrics. I decided on 4.5" squares, 2.5" strips and 2.5" squares. Anything smaller than that went in the trash. I also had a stack of fabrics leftover from hand dyed quilt backs for veterans quilts and I cut all of the blue ones in the same sizes. I put them all in a box and this will likely be the last veterans quilt kit that I cut/sew for many months! I think I have 15 - 17 kits cut and ready to sew.
This effort cleared one pile off the cutting table.
The table is now about half cleaned up so I'm making good progress.
On the quilting front I loaded a quilt for Mom last night and got the first row quilted.
This is just a weird side story. When I first got into longarming I did the normal thing that people do, I bought TONS of threads. Instead of buying one or 2 cones of a thread that I thought I would like and trying it out, I started collecting just about every line that Superior carried at that time. As expected, over time I've grown to favor some and not others but I'm determined to use even the ones that I don't prefer. They are all good threads but they don't all fit my aesthetic now. I'm no longer a big fan of King Tut but I'm using it on veterans quilts as much as possible. I also bought a lot of Masterpiece thinking that I would use it in the longarm but I don't really like it on the longarm. It wasn't designed for that in the first place. It's not called Masterpiece for nothing! I stopped using it for the longarm and brought it all upstairs to use for piecing and I'm going through it at a pretty good pace. But let's face it, some colors just aren't going to be used for piecing and here are 2 prime examples. But I do hate waste and wanted to still find a use for the bright colors that don't work so well for piecing. I picked the magenta one and started using it to baste quilts and now it's almost all gone! I didn't think I'd ever get through that cone of thread but the veterans quilts are keeping the machine busy. Soon I'll be basting in orange thread. That's the kind of thing that makes me happy.
I'm determined to only buy 1 new cone for every 2 that I empty so that I can reduce the massive inventory that I have. Aside from blue and cream for veterans quilts I shouldn't need to buy any thread for several years and I haven't really bought any new thread for several years.
This week I'm determined to get the project/gift bag tutorial done and posted and possible even the ice dyeing tutorial. I'll get Mom's quilt quilted and get the big green quilt loaded. I also want to finish clearing the cutting table and doing some other organizing in my sewing room. Things are generally kind of messy in there and that interferes with my creativity.
Wow, what a month. I suppose that I could have accomplished more things but I doubt it!
First, I finished off the month with the last 2 veterans quilt. My quilt closet is officially empty except for my own quilts, of course. These quilts are cool because they are what I call "bonus" quilts. I used the last bit of wide backing fabric from the bolt and I use scrap batting to squeeze in an extra quilt or 2 from every bolt of fabric and batting. The fabric at the end of a bold is usually about 36" wide. I dye it first and then cut it in half, sew the 2 halves together for one backing that's about 64 x 60, once it's squared up.
I did want to stop here and share some information on how I piece batting. A few years ago I started seeing the fusible batting tape and quickly realized that it's simply a very expensive version of knit garment interfacing. I happen to have a shelf full of interfacing left from my garment making days so I've started cutting it in 2" strips to fuse my batting together. Now, the interfacing that I have is tan or gray so I make sure to use this batting inside dark or busy quilts where this interfacing will not show. For now, this is free for me, but even purchasing interfacing and cutting it myself to 1.5" is so much more economical. At Joann I found a package of batting tape for $8 for 10 yards of 1.5" wide fusible interfacing. The Joann price for Easy Knit interfacing $6/yard and you will get the equivalent of 13 yards of fusible tape just for cutting it yourself!
When I quilt with pieced batting I do try to do a denser quilt pattern (like the 2 in the photo on the right) so that the batting seams will not separate in the wash.
As my Brit friend, Laura, would say, I'm quite chuffed with this photo. Including the 2 quilts that I just finished, that's a total of 22 veterans quilts quilted this month! I'm definitely going back to free motion quilting for veterans quilts. It's twice as fast as a pantograph.
I'd say that the biggest accomplishment for the month was learning how to time my machine myself. I also learned that my vision is no longer good enough to see this up close but the phone takes great photos that I can enlarge and I'm able to see exactly how everything lines up.
But wait, there's more!
I also took up loom knitting so that I can do yarny things between crochet sessions. I totally messed up my hands by overdoing crochet and loom knitting is going to ne a good alternative. I finished 2 hats and am halfway through a scarf. I did get one crochet baby done and have a wheelchair blanket underway.
I tie dyed some shirts for my little buddy, Eli, and made a Cookie Monster gift bag for them. It's no surprise that he liked the dinosaur toy that Mom got him more than he liked the shirts but I have it on good authority that he is wearing the shirts!
Finally I got the big green quilt top done. I ice dyed the backing last week so this quilt will get loaded for quilting this week.
I guess staying off social media really does pay off. Getting rid of Facebook and Instagram on my phone was a good decision. I do periodically check in via the desktop and I've discovered that I don't miss very much.
Here are my ending stats:
Starting UFO 8
Finished YTD 3
Started YTD 2
Ending UFO 7
Other major projects - 1
Veterans quilts made -
Veterans quilts quilted - 50
Fabric Postcards - 14
Pet Beds - 6
Quilted for others - 2
Crochet blankets - 5
Crochet hats - 12
Doll outfits - 7
Placemats - 8
Pillows - 2
Donated items - 20
My goals for July are:
Quilt, bind and deliver the green quilt
I brought 20 veterans quilt tops home from the last quilt club meeting and I set myself a goal of getting all of them done by Sunday. I wanted to commit to this group of quilts because I'm not going to take any more quilts in until September. I need to work on some of my own quilts for a while.
By last Thursday I had 8 of the 20 done.
Over the last 3 days I finished 10 more! They are all simply quilted but the tension is good and the thread colors were chosen to match the quilt tops. Most are ribbon meander but there's some wavy crosshatch, meandered leaves (on the brown quilts) and wavy lines.
I have 2 quilts left to do. These will be done on single backs. When I'm dyeing fabric for the quilt backs there's always a piece left on the bolt that's about 1 yard. I don't let that go to waste. I dye them, split them in half across the width and seam them together to make one new backing that's the perfect size for one veterans quilt. All of those batting strips are the excess width that I cut off while quilting. I will piece those together (using the fusible interfacing strips)to make a few pieces of "free" batting. Then I'll chop off the trimmings in the back for more dog beds. I want all of this done by tomorrow and then I'll be on to my projects again.
In between quilting sessions I was outside washing out the ice dyed fabrics. The last of them are hanging to dry today. It will take me all week to get all of this fabric ironed and photographed and loaded in the shop. Hopefully it will all be done by next Tuesday's newsletter.
Time to get back to quilting!
Yesterday was a really good day. To start off the weather was spectacular. For Virginia it was cool (high 70's) and low humidity. It was a great day for ice dyeing because the sun was still hot on the dye bins but we weren't burning up. But I'll start the day backwards with the 2 quilts that I quilted last night. That's 8 for the week so far and I've identified the two that I plan to get done tonight.
My friend, Anne, came over to ice dye with me and she brought this picnic quilt to quilt. We got it basted yesterday and will get it quilted today. This fabric brings back great memories. We both bought packages of these beautiful sun printed fabrics the first year that we went to the Houston Quilt Festival. That was probably sometime around 2005. We both treated them as precious until we learned out to sun print ourselves. I finally made a quilt I called Autumn Leaves with mine in 2014 and gave it to the guy who cuts our yard. (Yes, mine is a yard, not a lawn. It doesn't receive enough care from us to be called a lawn. We live on a river so I don't use fertilizer. We have weeds that mostly look like grass right after mowing.) Anyway, Scooter got that quilt and loved it. Anne made this fun picnic quilt with her leftovers of the fabric. She's coming back over to quilt it today. Can you see the perfect backing fabric that she used?
The real purpose of our day was ice dyeing! I haven't done this in 2 years. I sort of enjoy doing it but it really is a huge waste of dye powder and it's a lot of physical work. But you can't argue with the wonderful and unique textures that you get from the process. We set up 8 bins/trays in the driveway and Chris brought us 150 lbs. of ice.
Half of the ice is put directly on the fabric and the we sprinkled the dye powders over the ice.
The rest of the ice is spread over the dye and I sprinkle more soda ash on top just for good measure. I have fabric in the bottom of every bin because I love the texture on those fabrics created from the dripping dye. My Antelope Canyon quilt is made from one of the "bin" fabrics. You can see the plastic collars that I set up to keep the ice from rolling off.
Here are the 8 bins at the end of the day. They stayed out all night and we will wash the fabrics out with a garden hose this morning. Unfolding the fabrics is the best part of the process. It's always a surprise!
It's been a busy couple of days and, aside from my weekly dyeing, I'm staying focused on quilting the veterans quilts.
First, I want to thank Lily for providing a nice counter to the propane bill in our mail this week. Isn't that a very cool card? Much better than a gas bill.
Here are the 2 newest veterans quilts. Ribbon meanders on both. Anne is coming over tomorrow to quickly quilt a little picnic quilt and then I'll load the next 2 veterans quilts.
I successfully finished my first loom knitted hat! It's not a masterpiece but it's really warm and will be a nice donation hat and I think this is going to suffice for a donation hat. This yarn is Loops and Treads Tweed Big from Michaels. It's bulky and soft and it was on sale for $3. There are at least 2 more hats in this ball and the second one is underway. That's $1/hat! I can crochet a couple of rows on the wheelchair lap blanket and the I have to take a break and do this for a bit. I'll work on a few hats and then I might try a scarf.
The rest of my day was spent getting fabrics ready for ice dyeing today! I haven't ice dyed in a couple of years so be on the lookout for more ice dyed mandalas in the shop soon. If you need me today I'll be out in the driveway making a big mess with 100 lbs. of ice.
It's official now, my longarm is well and truly fixed! The tension is perfect just like it used to be. No more thread breakage, no more shipped stitches and no more bobbin nests. Best of all I feel very confident that I can fix it myself alone going forward. I even feel like I could work on mu Juki straight stitch machine if I needed. My brother (the auto mechanic) has repaired a couple of sewing machine himself so we're probably going to service my Juki together at some point.
I immediately got busy tackling the stack of 20+ veterans quilt tops that I have here to be quilted. I've told the group that I'm not taking any more tops until September, after vacation. I'm going to quilt as many as I can this week and then I will not quilt any others until the fall. I've done 34 already this year and now it's time to work on some of my own quilts.
These 4 were made by 2 club members and are only 4 of the 10 that they made from the fabric that was donated to us from Benartex (to compensate for the quilt that was stolen.) These fabrics are so busy that it doesn't matter at all how I quilt them.
With the goal of speed and volume, most of the quilts getting quilted this week are getting wavy straight lines, ribbon meander, wavy cross hatch or some other type of continuous curves. All of those are fast and I can get 2 quilts loaded, basted and quilted in less than 3 hours. My goal is going to be to get 2 done every day this week through Saturday. On Sunday I'll load one of my own quilts.
On the crochet front I'm making progress on the corner-to-corner blanket. I haven't been a big fan of the c2c blankets but now I get the attraction. It's so fast and easy! I think this Cascade Cartwheel yarn is beautiful and it will make a very soft wheelchair lap blanket. Working with the bulky yarn seems to be more tolerable for my hand as well for the moment. I've devised a weighting method with the yarn so that I don't have to use my fingers for tensioning and that's working really well. I'm also taking lots of breaks. I like this yarn so much that when I saw that Webs had it on clearance I ordered a bunch more. It's 40% off right now and it was an additional 15% over the weekend but I think that part of the sale has ended. It seems like June is the big yarn clearance month.
I got the 4 quilts done before I left for Eli's birthday party Saturday. Mom and I had a great time watching the kids play on a giant inflatable water slide. It was a fun afternoon. After the party we stopped by Joann's. I've been researching loom knitting as a possible car project and project to do in the evenings when I need a crochet break. I picked a pack of looms and a $3 ball of bulky yarn and watched a bunch of You Tube videos. I think this is going to be a fine project to do when my left hand gets fatigued with crochet. This is mostly a right hand task and I can make hats and scarves to donate.
This week is going to be all about veterans quilts. I don't have any appointments or house projects so I should be able to get through the quilts and maybe even get some other, more interesting, sewing projects done.
What time of day is most productive for you? I'm not particularly productive in the mornings. I do exercise every day but I don't even eat breakfast until 10. Then I will do computer stuff and I don't get motivated to make/sew/due until about 2. But after 2, I'm on fire until about 10 pm.
I've become my father who was an incredible night owl.
Yesterday afternoon I made some good progress on my weekend goals.
I got the little t-shirts tied/stamped and ready to dye this weekend. These are for a birthday gift for next weekend. One will be a spiral, the one with the little tied nub is a fish and I'm doing color magnet with another fish theme. Hopefully he will like them.
Then I got started cutting out more veterans quilt kits. This is a panel that my friend bought for me. It's almost as wide as the quilts we make so it's getting 3" stripes above and below. This one will sew together in a couple of hours.
I had enough batik left over to cut out 2 HST quilts with 6: HST blocks. Both are in blue and cream batiks.
Here's what's left of all of that 30+ yards of batiks that I bought several months ago. These leftovers might become placemats.
When I get back from sewing today I'll get started cutting into those 2 piles in back. That's all that's left of my patriotic fabric. I'm so glad because as of now I have EIGHTEEN kits cut out. That should keep my busy for the next year.
I will not be buying more patriotic fabric for a while.
I didn't get anything creative done yesterday except the regular Wednesday dyeing session. I was sill a little tired from the long day Tuesday so at the end of the day I just say and worked on a puzzle and listened to a book. It was kind of a perfect day!
My big goal for the weekend is to cut the rest of this pile into veterans quilt kits. I like pre-cutting kits for my quilt club sewing days and for vacation sewing. I have 2 quilts planned from this pile and the rest might be cut into tumbler or square or HST scraps. But I'm committed to not returning these fabrics to stash!
The other thing I'm doing this weekend is tie dyeing these toddler t-shirts for a birthday gift. I know I'm doing a fish and a spiral but I need to quickly come up with another idea.
It is sewing weekend with my quilt club so Friday and Saturday I'll be working on 2 kits in this pattern. One has the light blue background and one has ivory.
I've ordered the backing and batting for the king size quilt. The backing needs to be dyed but I'm a little closer to getting that quilt done. Because the backing needs to be dyed it means that I will be ice dyeing again soon!
Yesterday was the Democratic primary for 3 positions in Virginia and I spent the day working at the polling station. I did this the first time for the last presidential election and I really enjoy doing it. Unfortunately the turnout was abysmal (as expected for a single party primary) so we were all quite bored. We had 82 voters in a precinct with over 1400 registered voters. There were 5 of us working and we all got lots of reading in and I finished off this hat that will be donated as a chemo hat. It's a 15 hour day so I was almost straight to bed by the time I got home.
Back to the hat. The yarn is Flecks from Michaels. I had been hearing a lot about and I caught it on sale and picked up this skein. I like buying single skeins and trying them out with hats. Then I can figure out if it's something I want more of. This yarn is really soft so it would be great for shawls, hats and scarves. I've seen it made up into a pretty swing-style tank top too. I think it made a pretty chemo hat and I have enough for at least 2 more. It's pretty splitty so I don't know if I'd buy more of it but I'm glad I bought some to try out.
I think this brings my total number of hats to 6 for the year and I finally feel like I'm starting to understand hat making, so that's good. I'm also glad that I have a place to donate them.
My hand is starting to get better so I'm doing a little bit of crochet every day. I'll have to avoid doing hours of crochet every day again. I did love sitting down after dinner and doing crochet until bed time. Now I'm working puzzles and piecing. I'm going to try a turmeric-based anti-inflammatory to see if that helps. The problem is all inflammation but I can't take ibuprophen or other drugs. I hear good things about tumeric/cumin but I'll need to try it for myself. I have discovered that, as with most things, the good brands are not inexpensive.
So I mentioned Wednesday that my goal Thursday was to get the Innova timed.
It all started when I wanted to get these 2 veterans quilts done quickly before vacation. For this one I was happily quilting along with the wavy cross-hatch when the machine started acting up. I think I ran up on a thick seam and it messed up the hopping foot height. That's not uncommon and it's not a big deal. I fixed it and moved on and finished this one.
Then I started on this one just doing some wavy horizontal lines. On both of these quilts I was using thread that wouldn't really show so I could get away with really simple quilting. This quilt legitimately deserved some fancy quilting but I have to remember that I'm quantity over quality when it comes to veterans quilts. This quilt should have taken 40 minutes, max, to quilt.
As of these evening I expect that it's taken me 4 hours! My machine is unhappy. It is quilting great from left to right but right to left is awful.
Yesterday Marcy came over and we went through the timing steps and I think we did everything right but I still have some sort of problem. It's possible that there's a burr somewhere that I can't see or something. I've taken a lot of photos and sent an email to Innova for some help. I'm not frustrated with the machine or anything. I've had it since 2014 with so few problems. I'm sure this is either a damaged part or something stupid I've done in my attempts to adjust it. I expect it will be resolved soon.
Here's what the back of these quilts look like. It's nothing special except the specialness of being done! I'm all caught up on veterans quilts until the meeting Tuesday night.
This weekend is all about getting the green quilt top together.
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.