Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quilting The Blues Away

I'd love to show you all the fun quilty stuff I've gotten into over the past week, but what you see above is just about it.  I've forced myself to emerge from a several day pitty party and it wasn't the type of party that involved my cute little pibbles.  Yes, sometimes quilters get the blues.  So what did I do??  After kicking myself in the pants, I forced myself off the couch and decided to quilt something.  Actually I decided to quilt absolutely nothing, rather, just quilt.

I grabbed two fat quarters from the shelf and sandwiched them together.  I sat down at my HQ Sweet 16 and started moving the fabric (I knew I had an almost a full bobbin of Aurifil 2610 Light Blue Gray left from quilting MOD Bear Paw).  Slowly pebbles formed and they morphed into swirls.  A few curves later and I had a cute little feather.  So, I just quilted until the words "Be Happy" appeared.  Happiness is a choice and sometimes it's a rather hard choice.

I ran out of bobbin in the middle of the stipples.  I didn't feel the need to wind another and keep going.  It was almost 8:30 and what had been on the bobbin had done the trick.  I felt better, I was able to choose to be happy.

What was I unhappy about??  Nothing big really.  Just small little things all combined together was enough to make me feel blah.  Maybe it was the weather.

David ended up having to be away from home this past weekend and even his cat, J.R. Puffin Stuff aka Junior, was feeling the blues too.  These are his "I want my daddy" faces.

But everyone seems to be back to their normal selves and life is chugging right along.  Hopefully, I can get started on my long list of quilting this evening.  Or who knows, maybe I'll get bitten by a squirrel.  Which reminds me, Sandra's DrEAMi Linky Party, dedicated to out favorite quilting distractions, is going on right now over at mmm!quilts.  Have you ever had one of those Drop Everything And Make it moments?  If so, link up a post about your moment and let us know we aren't alone.

So what do you do when you have a case of the quilting blues?  Or the creepy cruds?  Or the blahs?  How do you pick yourself up out of that mess?

Monday, January 23, 2017

New Fabric, New News and Quilt Alongs Galore

Yay for 2017!  There are so many wonderful Quilt Alongs going on right now, it's not funny.  I'm really having to resist the urge to join them all, but with a full time job and a stack of UFO's that need quilted I know there is no way I can.  So, for now I've settled for four to tide me over.  If you would like to see a list of what's out there hop over to Busy Hands Quilts (she has 44 listed right now) and Quilt Fabrication to see lists of QAL's going on.

So let's take a look at the four free QAL's that have my attention.

First up is a The Children's Library hosted by Pat Sloan.

Pat posts the blocks on the 1st(ish) of every month.  January's block was called Mother Goose Rhymes.  For my version of the block I dug into my left over Zen Chic and Bonnie and Camille stash.

Next we have 2017 Aurifil Mystery Designer BOM also hosted by Pat and Aurifil Threads.

Blocks for this one are posted around the 15th of the month.  January's mystery designer was Janet Clare and you can read Pat's interview and get the pattern for her Cat Block block here.  In Janet's pattern she has added some embroidery detail to this cute little kitten, I'm still on the fence if I will give that a try or not.  Thanks to Buzzin Bumble's Crafted Applique method, I'm more willing to make blocks like this one.  I didn't hesitate or try to talk myself out of it once.

Next up we have Have A Jolly Little Christmas over at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Last year I missed out on participating in Lorna's Ugly Sweater QAL so there was no way I was skipping out on this one.  This one kicked off on January 14th and will post new blocks every two weeks until August.  I've decided to make the 15 block sampler quilt.  

And last but not least is Stitchin At Home's Medallion BOM Quilt.  

Cindy will post a block a month on the 3rd Saturday of each month.  This month we made the center block in the quilt.  I am hoping to base the colors of my blocks around that pretty little floral print in the center.  I found it at a local quilt shop (Helen's Hen House) and I just had to use it!

The best thing about these quilt alongs?  I'm using up my stash.  Almost all the fabric I have used this month came straight out of the stash bins in the back room.  The only fabric I purchased is the background fabric for the Christmas quilt and a bit more yardage of the white and floral for the medallion quilt.  So you will find no guilt over here for joining in on this sewing fun.

Now, let's have a look at the fabric I'm drooling over and why I'm drooling...

This (except the white is a Timeless Treasures purchase from Helen's Hen House) is Dixie by Cluck Cluck Sew for Windham Fabrics.  I've loved this line since it came out last year.  So much so, I've decide to use it in testing a pattern I have written.

Which brings me to my news, I have written a pattern!  It is a collaborated effort between Dave the Quilt Engineer and I.  The pattern will be offered in several sizes and right now I'm in the testing phase.  Since this is my first attempt at writing a full pattern, I didn't know if anyone would be willing to actually have a go at testing it for me and giving feedback.  If so you can leave a comment with your email and I will get back to you.  Dave and I both finished our first versions of the quilt this weekend and I have a few small changes to make.

So as you can see, we've been as busy as two cats on a sewing table.

So this leads me to ask, are you participating in any QAL's this year?  If so which ones?  I have to live through my quilting friends for the ones I am missing.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Is A Goal Enough?

The last quarter of 2016 was the first time I set down and made a list of goals and was successful in completing most of them.  So, this has me thinking, what about this list made me so successful?  I've made lists in the past and was quite happy to ignore all those neatly numbered items.  Last time was different.  Why?  Because without really noticing what I was doing, I didn't just write down goals, I also wrote down a plan.

Dave the Quilt Engineer loves to listen to audio books about leadership, motivation and achieving goals and usually plays them when we go on long car trips.  I'll be honest I'm usually sitting in the passenger seat, running tunes through my head, bored.  Although, I must be paying attention more than what I think I am.  I do recall hearing a statistic that most successful people do not just set goals, but map out the the steps they need to take to reach those goals.  Which makes sense.  If you are heading to the west coast from the east coast, you will get there quicker if you look at a map instead of driving aimlessly and hoping to get there.

When I say a plan, it could be a detailed two page dissection of every single thing that needs to be done, or just as simple as piece, quilt and bind.  Just something to keep track of the steps to completing your goal.  Crossing off those simple tasks will feel just as good as crossing off that final project.

My list of goals for this quarter include quite a bit of quilting quilts.  UFO's from the beginning of my quilting addiction journey.  I needed to devise a plan to set myself up for success.  I dedicated and entire evening to cataloging all my UFO's into the "Planning" section of my 2017 Quilter's Planner.  My cataloging included writing down each quilt and it's measurements.  Having the measurements handy would make getting batting and backing much easier than having to drag the quilt out every time I thought about finishing it.  I also took a picture of each quilt to have on my quilting jump drive.  Let's face it, when I quilt has been in hiding for a few years, you can forget what it looks like.

Looking at those pictures can help me decide if a quilt will receive a personalized custom quilting or a good ol' overall design.

So I ask you, if you have set goals for yourself, yearly, quarterly or monthly have you actually wrote down the steps you need to take to finish the goal(s)?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Squirrel Confession--Variable Star Quilt

Welcome to another episode of quilting confessions: Squirrel Addition.  We all have them no matter what you call them, those little distractions that get in your head and eat at you until you make them and set them free.  I think my friend Sandra at mmmquilts says it best when she calls them DrEAMi Moments...Drop Everything And Make it.  You have to.  You cannot move on with your quilting and creative life until you set that beast free.

For me, sometimes a squirrel will live inside my head happily frolicking around, slowly eating away at my attention for weeks before I acknowledge it.  This particular squirrel was born on December 7th when the first episode of Craftsy and Angela Walter's The Midnight Quilt Show was released.  The Variable Star Quilt.

I could not get enough of those beautiful stars and the over the top Angela quilting!!  I wanted one.  Wanted to play around quilting one. But NO!  Too many unquilted UFO's.  Focus on quilting goals.  No new projects.  Period.

I knew I wanted to make use of patterns and pre-cuts I already own and decided to pull out three projects to ring in the new year with.

The Cotton + Steel FQ's were pulled to make Quilts Actually's Forging Steel, the bandanna FQ's were pulled to become Quilting Jetgirl's Bundle Buster and the random fabrics to the right to become Sew Fresh Quilt's Dog Gone Cute.

So what happened?  Well....those bandanna FQ's where happily busted to become a quilt top New Years Eve.

I will show you more of this one after it's quilted.  However, those C+S fabrics were still calling my name.  I could hear them in my sleep.  

A day or two later, Helen at Midget Gem Quilts invited me through Instagram to join her and @susangodfrey600 in their C+S quilt along.  All of us had the same Craftsy FQ bundle boxes and the idea was to make something, anything and share as we go.  OH HELL YEAH!!!  COUNT ME IN!

I only paused for a second when I grabbed the Dog Gone Cute background fabric and downloaded the free Variable Star Quilt Pattern from Craftsy...the squirrel was scratching harder.  I was officially out of control.

I carefully petted those fabrics, wanting to make sure I chose the correct ones.  I paired them up, repaired them up and finally decided on the ones I wanted to use. 

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:  When unfolding FQ's be prepared for anything.  I knew some of the fabrics where Halloween themed, but didn't think much about it.  I picked a nice tan-ish FQ with the prettiest lacy looking flowers on it.  I was talking to David as I was unfolding and ironing my fabrics.  As I unfolded this particular one, I gasped mid-sentence and jumped backward, fear in my eyes.  David, concerned, asked what was the matter??  I started laughing like a mad woman...well played Craftsy...well played.

Once it was completely unfolded there are little black spiders printed all over it; just so happens none showed up when it was folded in the box.  Guess those aren't flowers but webs.  Be careful...unfold with caution. 

With fabric sliced, stars formed in our living room.  I even dug out the portable design wall so I could view them as they came together.

And so I gave birth to my squirrel.  I can breath a bit.  It's all ready for me to quilt it but it knows it has to wait just a bit longer.  I feel like I can focus on other things now...like my list (which it has been added to).

Do you find yourself influenced by the power of squirrels from time to time (all the time)?  Do you find it hard to concentrate on projects because newer, prettier projects flirt for your attention?  Do you just WANT a distraction? 

 There is a party just for you.  Sandra will be hosting a monthly linky party at the end of every month dedicated to those DrEAMi moments that captivate us.  So if you have found yourself completely engrossed by something that you shouldn't have been working on, or distracted from other things, write a post and link up on January 28th.  It could be fabric, a pattern, or a technique that has you ignoring that list of "should be doing" stuff.  I guarantee you will be in good company.  Heck, you just might find your new squirrel.  Now where did I put that bag of peanuts?

Come join the party!  Today I'm linking up with DrEAMi LinkyLet's Bee Social and Midweek Makers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 4th Quarter Goal List Review and 2017 1st Quarter Goals

It's amazing how one tiny piece of paper, can keep you on track.  I started writing this list three months ago as a self test.  Could I make a list and actually keep to it without two million distractions?  Let's evaluate the list and see how I made out.

1) A Hop For Paint Brush Studios---nailed it

When October started off I had a tote of half pieced blocks.  I'm happy to say that a week later I had a completely finished quilt and was part of a very successful blog hop.

You can read about Autum Blooms here.

2) Read With Me--a book shelf quilt--check!

I was commissioned to make this quilt for a Christmas present and with not much time to spare I did get this one finished.

You can read more about Read With Me here.

3) Mini Round Robin--Yuppers!

The only thing left to do on this one was come up with a quilting plan and get it done!  So...I got it done.

You can read more about my round robin finish here.

4) Snowman Quilt--Would you like to build a snowman?  Yes!

Snow Friends is a pattern I tested for Leanne at Devoted Quilter.  I am happy to say with a little Christmas magic I was able to bring all these snow friends to life!

Read more about Snow Friends here.

5) Stay up do date on Meadow Mystery--Who's ready for January?  Me!

6) Finish MOD Bear Paw--paws-atively finished it

7) Piece at least 6 more blocks on Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt--I'll call this one a draw

I didn't really pull this one out and assess where I left off with it.  If I had done that, I would have realized that goal wouldn't work for my plans.  There wasn't even six blocks in the next section of this quilt.  What I did do was piece the blocks of the first section together.  So I didn't actually complete this goal, but I did work on it.

8)  Finish piecing Pat Sloan's Mystery Quilt, My Secret Garden--All stitched up

She has joined many friends in the long line of please quilt me.

9) Quilt Psychedelic Cat Lady--fail

She's 1/2 way basted and still waiting on me.

10) Charity Quilts for the Guild--done!

Since they were both panels that needed a little quilting love, I knocked this one out pretty quickly.

11) Finish a UFO (any UFO)--a finish sighted!

Technically, all this one needed was a binding, but it had to wait almost 10 years for it, so it counts.  You can read more about this Turning Twenty's fracture fairy tale here.

12) Ocean Sky Quilt--nope

She pretty much still looks just like this, but setting somewhere else.

13) Midnight Mystery--yeah, no.

It just didn't happen.  Maybe next quarter, guys.

14)  Quilt a small gift for a friend--complete!

I was very happy to finish this one.  It's one I had been meaning to finish for a few months and had no good excuse as to why I hadn't.  Now I do not need an excuse.

You can read more about Scrappy Squares here.

So the over all score was: 10 completed goals, 3 uncompleted goals, and one altered goal.  I'll be honest, when I compiled this list I thought maybe I'd get like 3 things done.  The list helped me stay focused on what I wanted to complete and allowed me to set time lines for completion.  

So I've put together a list for the 1st quarter of 2017.

1)  Keep up with QAL's and BOM's: (my list has changed some)  So far that list includes Pat Sloan's The Children's Library (Starts Jan 5th) and her  Aurifil Color Wheel BOM (starts around Jan 15th), Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilt's Have A Jolly Little Christmas (Starts Jan 14th).  If you are looking for these types of projects Busy Hands Quilts has started a link up to find current QAL's and BOM's going on in 2017. 

2)  Finish Meadow Mystery Quilt:  This one gets it's own number now, with the last block instructions coming out this Thursday.

3)  Piece section B of the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt.

4)  Purchase a pantograph and figure out a way to quilt it using a domestic/sit down machine.

5)  Purchase fabrics for the upcoming Gathering Mystery Quilt hosted by Shelly at Cora's Quilts.  The quilt along will be in late March.

6)  Make at least two blocks to send to Kat for Covered in Love.  The block for the first two months will be Quarter Cabin blocks.  To read more about Covered in Love and these blocks check out Kat's post here.

7)  Quilt Midnight Mystery Quilts

8)  Quilt Crazy Cat Lady Quilt

9)  Quilt Dave the Quilt Engineer's tree skirt--ya that didn't make it under the tree this year

10)  Finish the Bandanna Bundle Buster Quilt

11)  Finish Star Quilt using C+S Fat Quarter bundle

12) Piece a Dog Gone Cute Quilt using fabric I purchased on the QBIR

13)  Quilt Ocean Sky

14)  Quilt Vacation Time Quilt

15)  Quilt My Secret Garden Quilt

16)  Finish another UFO

Once again, this is a crazy list, but I'm still feeling quite motivated from all my hard work from last quarter.  Will I stay ahead or fall behind.  I'm not sure, but we are about to find out.

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