Life as a Greenmonstr

Quilting and Other Facts of Life
Sometimes people really know what they are talking about

I had seen posts from people saying that they found it very difficult to make a quilt if they did not pick out the fabric and pattern.  I would nod my head and say "yes, I can see why that is."  Now I KNOW why that is...

My in-laws moved to assisted living this past June and my sister-in-law came to me with a box.  Inside the box were 32 quilt blocks that my MIL had made about 30 years ago, along with some fabric.  She asked me to finish it, and I knew she was stressed, so I said I would.  It would be an educational experience.

One of the fabrics was very...pink.  Like a salmon-y old pink.  I hate pink.  I think the only piece of fabric I currently own that could be characterized as "pink" is a batik.  One of the fabrics was a mishmash of packed blue outlines of flowers and the other was navy with little pink flowers scattered over it (there's that word again).   I had to make 4 more blocks to make it 6x6 and then sash/back/quilt it. 

The first problem was the sashing fabric she had in the box was pretty see-through and I just didn't trust it.  So I went to the LQS and bought some.  The bigger problem was that I had the worst time motivating myself to do anything with the blocks because I really DID NOT LIKE the fabric.   Finally in October I made myself finish the four blocks and sash the quilt.  Now I needed borders.

There was not enough of the supplied fabric to make borders (for which I was very grateful, actually) so again I went to the LQS, where I stood for literally an hour with different bolts next to the fabrics.  The pink was throwing a huge monkey wrench into things because I swear there are no colors made now that would really go with it.  Finally I settled on a color that was near the navy fabric though a little purplier. 

Finally, I needed to get it finished by Christmas.  I had to buy backing and batting and get it quilted.  They asked me if I wanted them to do the binding, but I said no because I was already spending a lot of money (just imagine, 98x98 quilt backing and batting and the quilting for that size quilt).  They got it back to me in about two weeks but then I was faced with putting the binding on, including handsewing to the back.

Four hours of handsewing later (gag), I beheld the finished product and astonishingly, the rather distressing amount of hostility I had been harboring towards it mostly disappeared.  Once it was done, I actually thought it was OK.  The quilting made a HUGE difference. 

Here it is in action on my MIL's bed:

So...it really IS harder to make a quilt of someone else's colors/fabrics, no matter who it is you are making the quilt for, but in the end you will probably like it - or at least not hate it so much.  :-)

 

 

The reality doesn't always match the vision

Last fall my friend and I went to a quilt show, A Quilter's Gathering.  At the show, we discovered that they were having a challenge for all quilters in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Gathering, where the quilter would purchase a fat quarter bundle and make a quilt that would be part of the show this coming fall.  The quilts have to be turned in by August 15.  We were very excited by the idea of having a quilt on display, so we each purchased a bundle, although this particular design style was outside of my usual "thing." 

Earlier this year we got together and cut out our chosen patterns.  I put my parts into a box and set it aside for a bit. My friend put her quilt together, but she did not like how it was coming out; the pieces were not aligning correctly and further examination of the illustration revealed that they weren't perfectly aligned there either.  She decided to try a different pattern but she had to purchase more fabric, of course (what a hardship!).  Meanwhile, I just started sewing mine together last weekend.  I used the same pattern that I used for the Teal Wheel, which was challenging but I thought it would work well with the fabrics.  I made the first wedge, and though it only has about 7 seams, I think I must have ripped about 12 seams.  I was talking to myself very heatedly by the time the wedge was together.  Finally, I could get a glimpse of what was to come! 

I hated it.  Hated it, hated it.  It didn't look at all like I expected it to, and I hated it.  Did I mention that I hated it?  :-)  Anyway, now I am at the same point my friend was  a few weeks ago, except that she is binding hers and I have yet to purchase more fabric.  I have settled on another pattern, however.   We are going to a small quilt show this Saturday and there is a vendor there that I know has that line of fabric, so I am hopeful that they will have what I am looking for.  It's not long until August, after all, and I need to get on the stick!  

I've been busy!

Maybe it's the weekly snowstorms that have made me yearn for warm blankets, but I have been doing a lot of quilting!  I've mainly been finishing up those projects that were on the verge of being finished, just needing that last little bit of doing - binding cut and sewn on, pinning and quilting, etc.   Here are the fruits of my labor:

1.  For the NICU - two quilts and a bunch of loveys:

      

 

2.  A Yellow Brick Road pattern - Asian fabrics - this one is for ME because I liked the fabric so much!  I did let my daughter use it for the picture though.  :-)

 

3.  Finally, the McCall Mystery Quilt is finished!  I sent it out to Bits & Pieces in Pelham NH to be quilted (she did a great job) and it took me a while to face putting the binding on since it's a full size quilt...It's called Crystal Butterfly

 

Now my sewing machine is in dire need of a tune-up, but I don't want to give it up!

The Vanishing Needle

During the month of December, I did not do much sewing.  I spent my time getting ready for the holiday and, of course, working.  This is when I really noticed the difference in spare time between working 25 and 40 hours a week - getting ready for Christmas was much less relaxing! 

Once the New Year started, I decided to get back to quilting.  I had a NICU baby quilt all quilted, just waiting for the binding to be put on, as well as a couple of children's fabric charm packs waiting in the wings.  However, Murphy's Law struck again.  As I was changing the needle, I dropped it - right down into the hole by one of the feed dogs!  A tiny, tiny hole, not much bigger than the actual needle, yet I managed to do it.  The top of the needle was just sticking out so I took my long bent forceps and grabbed it.  So far, so good.  Alas, when I started carefully pulling the needle out, I lost it, and down it went, completely into the bed of the machine.  {Insert bad word here}  I took out the bobbin case on the off chance that I would be able to see it or get at it from there, but no dice.  I could not see anythihg remotely resembling a needle in there.  Apparently there is a Bermuda Triangle inside my machine!  

I wasn't sure whether this would be a problem and it was a holiday, so I decided to be better safe than sorry and wait until I could call my local dealer.  I was dreading bringing my machine in there and having to leave it for a week.  When I called them, though, they said that the needle probably went down into a "dead zone" where there were no moving parts (or parts of any kind, for that matter).  She suggested that I turn the wheel slowly by hand and if I didn't hear any bad sounds, I was all set. 

You can bet I turned that wheel pretty slowly!!  No bad sounds!  I was in business.  I put binding on and hand sewed it during one of the football games last weekend. 

We can't ever be sure what the coming year will bring...but it's starting with the usual small goofy incidents of life!

Oh dear...the LQS wins again

Today a friend and I went to a couple of shops.  I was looking for nothing in particular (my first mistake!).   Mainly, I wanted to bring my McCall's Quilting mystery quilt top to LQS #2 to have it quilted.  The top is 72 x 72 and I didn't want to wrestle with it on my sewing machine. 

I had self-control at LQS #1; I purchased backing and borders for a small baby quilt for the NICU, as well as 3 yards of autumn leaves flannel that was calling my name.  However, I had a coupon for that shop as well.  So far, so good.

Alas, I lost control at LQS #2.  Maybe it was because I hadn't eaten lunch yet.  I started out well enough - picked out a quilting motif and backing/batting for the top I was having her quilt for me, then paid half now (the rest to be paid later).  Once that was done, I happened to notice that she had a number of FQ bundles.  I thought it would be fun to buy one for mystery quilt 7 here on QCA.  The price tags were a little bit startling but it is amazing how you can rationalize things when you have a) a coupon and b) an empty stomach.  On the bright side, after subtracting 20 FQ for the mystery quilt, I have 5 or 6 left over AND three panels of Christmas-design squares.  Maybe I will make a table runner or something.  I also bought 2 yards of gingham check for baby quilt backing/binding and received a free FQ. 

Then we went out to lunch. 

I shudder to think of how much money I spent today.  Luckily, my husband was not home when I got home today so it's all blended into my sewing room now!  :-)

Here are my selected fabrics for MQ7:

Posted: Sat, Nov 10 2012 4:52 PM by greenmonstr | with 7 comment(s)
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Time slips by

When I first began this blog, a little over a year ago, my goal was to post once a week.  HA!  I was just a tad optimistic there...However, I did manage once a month or more, until now.  It's a little disturbing how time slips by unnoticed, and one day you look at the calendar and realize that it's time to get out the Halloween decorations and make sure you have good winter boots!

I have managed to squeeze a little bit of quilting into my days, though.  I made two more NICU quilts, one from a charm pack (my usual 5 x 6 with a small border) and one from an I Spy panel (which turned out extremely cute).  I quilted the I Spy panel along the lines of the triangles between the hexagons and it made a nice pattern on the back.  Unfortunately, I was so excited to take the two quilts to the hospital that I totally forgot to take pictures of them.   

Have you seen any of the tutorials from Missouri Quilt Co?  I have subscribed to their You Tube channel.  Jenny explains things very well, and she loves to use the words "cute," "darling," and "adorable."  She is adorable too!  Anyway, in her videos she demonstrates a number of different things to do with precuts.  I tried one this past weekend, called "scrappy four-patch."  Here is the link:

http://quiltingtutorials.com/all/scrappy-4-patch-quilt-tutorial/

I like the way scrappy quilts look but I am not about to cut out a billion little squares and then sew them back together. This method appealed to me as a way to do it more quickly.  Anyway, I used the Ten Little Things charm pack and a white solid charm pack, so I ended up with four-patches that have two white squares and two colored squares - abotu a million of them!  It didn't occur to me that I would end up with so many!  Anyway, I put together a quilt top 6 x 7 squares (just to change things up a bit - ha!).  I plan to quilt diagonally through the white squares to hopefully accentuate the colors, and once it's bound I will post a picture. 

After that, it's time to get serious about Christmas...I like to make everyone pillowcases that reflect their personality.  For example, my husband has a thing about chipmunks.  He hates them, and we live in the woods so there are a lot of them around.  Last year at a quilt show I found a pretty realistic fabric with chipmunks on it and made him a pillowcase out of it.  He thought it was very funny and he loves it.  

See how the time slips by?  We are already thinking about Christmas!

 

Mixed feelings...and back to quilting!

I had two more baby quilts to drop off at the NICU at my previous employer.  One of the physicians that I had worked with for many years was retiring and they were having a tea for him there so I decided to combine trips.  When I walked into the building, it seemed very empty.  Granted, it was 4:30, but that's not so late for a hospital.  I dropped off the quilts at the NICU, then I went to the tea.  I did see a couple of people in the hallway that I knew and spoke to briefly, and they were happy to see me.  The physician was very surprised to see me, and we had a nice chat.  There were about 10 people at the tea at that time, and I knew a couple of them.  They were happy to see me as well, and we talked for a while. I had a cookie and then I left. 

It was nice to see people again, though I was hoping there would be more people around.  It just wasn't as busy as I remember it being (and I haven't been gone that long).  The whole thing was just vaguely disappointing and unsettling.  My new employer (and I've been there THREE MONTHS - it went by quick) is a much more vital place, I think.  It confirmed to me that it had been the right time to leave, but having worked there for 30 years, it left me with a bit of an empty feeling.  It's not that I miss working there (I most definitely don't), but I spent such a large part of my life there it was odd to feel like such an outsider after such a short time.

I came home and quilted an I Spy cheater panel baby quilt, which only needs binding now.  I also pinned up another baby quilt which is ready to quilt this weekend, and pinned up a Yellow Brick Road quilt as well.  The YBR quilt top has been waiting for a year or so now, so it's about time!  I also got some fabric for pillowcases (Christmas is coming - last year I made each person in my house a pillowcase - they all loved them so I am going to do that every year from now on).    We went to a quilt show as well - once again, some amazing work is being done.  I especially love the quilts that look "real" - but not painted fabric or anything like that.  I find it interesting to see how people see the different shading that is necessary to make something look real and then are able to pick out fabric that fits their vision.  It really is fantastic!

Slowly, slowly

I didn't realize how much sewing I was doing during the afternoon until I couldn't do it anymore!  When I changed jobs, I changed from getting home at 1 p.m. to getting home at 4:45 and I haven't been sewing much since.  I have been doing some work on the McCall's Mystery Quilt, putting the rows together.  I'm about halfway there.  It's really looking wonderful.  I love it when a mystery works out so well!  Once I have the top pieced I will post a picture.  I will be sending it out for quilting, though, because I don't want to wrestle with it on my sewing machine. Besides, at the rate I am going, I would be 100 years old before I got it quilted myself!

Next month I will be going to a quilt show with a friend of mine.  We go every year and it's become a tradition. I'm really looking forward to it. I find we have bought less and less fabric at the show through the years; as our stashes have grown, we have become much more selective.  Plus, we are more experienced and understand what we need/want. We spend a lot of time looking at the wonderful work that other quilters do and we have even more appreciation for their talent now that we have been quilters for a while.  That doesn't mean we won't still be dropping some pretty good money there.  Can't wait!

No time

My new job is great!  The only problem is that it takes away the time in the afternoon that I was using to sew, so I haven't done any sewing for a couple of weeks.  The other day I resolved to use today to sew, and I made another quilt for the NICU:

 

 

I love dinosaurs too!

I want to do more sewing tomorrow!

Posted: Sat, Jun 9 2012 8:06 PM by greenmonstr | with 2 comment(s)
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First day

Today was the first day at my new job.  Well, sort of...I was in the building, but at orientation, which is about six hours of listening to people talk about policy, filling out forms, etc.  Tomorrow will really be the start of my job. 

As I was gathering my things in the car before going into the building, it occurred to me that I was going from one facility where most people knew me and I knew my way around like the back of my hand (by virtue of the fact that I had worked there for 30 years) to a place where I know virtually no one and have NO CLUE where I am going.  I had a moment of "holy cow, what am I doing?" but as soon as I was out of the car it was all good. 

The next few days are going to be very hectic with meeting everyone (and I am no good with names usually), going to meetings, going to training, and learning the systems.  However, on Saturday I am going to the Keepsake Quilting Tent Sale!  Our yearly pilgrimmage!  A nice reward for having a shiny new job!   I'm sure some of you will be there too!

The Deed is Done - A New Chapter Begins

Those of you who have read my blog before may remember that several months ago I mentioned that I was contemplating leaving my job and the organization for which I have worked for the past 30+ years.  Well, I have done it.

My boss left in January because of her own discontent with the organization, and a few weeks ago she let me know that she had an opening in her new department.  The catch?  It was a supervisory position.  Why is that a "catch," you may ask?  Well, I was a supervisor before, ending in 2000, and I had stepped down because I was burnt after 12 years of it.   I interviewed anyway, and it turns out that I already know three people in the department, two of whom actually worked for me before in that prior position.  After some consideration, I accepted the position.  I felt it was my opportunity to get the heck out of Dodge!  I haven't worked 40 hours a week since my son entered the fifth grade (he is going to be 21 in the fall) so it will be quite an adjustment for me.  However, I'm looking forward to having the extra money - "extra," of course, being a somewhat relative term, since it will be saved up for tuition for my kids.

I never, NEVER thought I would be leaving my current organization, but over the last few years I really didn't like the way things were going.  I am a little nervous to be starting completely fresh in a place I have never been (I never even knew where this place was, though I had heard of it).  Interestingly, so far I am not particularly sad about leaving my current place.  I guess it really is time to start a new chapter!

Posted: Tue, May 8 2012 6:22 PM by greenmonstr | with 1 comment(s)
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Busy hands

Well, I haven't blogged for a while.  I have been tweaking my resume and applying for a new job.  It has one major drawback - I would have to work every 7th weekend, both days, and one holiday a year, even as supervisor.  I haven't worked holidays/weekends in more than 5 years and it's the only thing that's making me wonder if I should take the job.  However, my current job is BORING and I have this overwhelming urge to get the heck out of there.  I've been doing some deep thinking about that - I don't want to take the first thing that comes along just to get out, but on the other hand, this job would be much more interesting (and lucrative!), it just has this tiny issue.  I will probaby end up taking it though. I'm afraid I would kick myself every day when I arrive at my current job if I don't.

Anyway, another thing I have been doing is QUILTING! 

   MQ V - a UFO no more!  I used Quilter's Dream Green batting, that is made from recycled soda bottles.  I loved it.  I will be donating this to the Hopes and Dreams ALS project in memory of my mother, who died of ALS in December 2000 at the age of 63.

  This is for the NICU - I used a charm pack.  My daughter is helping me with the pictures today.  :-)

  This is a prequilted panel from Joann's that I put blanket binding on. I love Tigger best.

  I designed this quilt for the NICU (not the most complicated thing ever but simple works).  They said that they receive fewer quilts that are boyish, so I like to try to make those.  What boy doesn't love dinosaurs?  I have a lot of this fabric left.  I could make another little quilt with dinos!

So that's what I've been doing...I also have a Yellow Brick Road quilt to sandwich, and my tiger quilt to sandwich also.  Not to mention the McCall's Mystery Quilt top to finish.  Phew!  I'll be busy for a while!

 

 

Motivation returns

I confess. I hadn't sewn anything in almost a month. The weather was SO warm...not New England-y at all. I was playing Mass Effect 3 (a video game). I was watching some spring training baseball. I just wasn't motivated to sew.

I was saved by a quilting friend of mine who works at the same company I do. A few months ago, my department was moved to another campus and we could not take our daily walks or do any show and tell anymore. Since the holidays were over, we set up a time to meet at her house and do some quilting-related activities. She has a nice finished room in her basement, roomy and inviting, and has a design wall set up as well. I had a Yellow Brick Road quilt to lay out, and she had some sewing to do.

I laid out the Yellow Brick Road quilt and helped her with her project by pulling stiff interfacing through fabric tubes for a fabric basket she was making. Voila! I was back in the mood. The next day I sewed together the blocks. Today I cut the backing for Mystery Quilt V - always an adventure, since it must be done on the floor and the cat usually comes and acts like a paperweight while I am trying to work! Tomorrow I can spend some time pinning the sandwich together, and possibly sew up the Easter wallhanging (no piecing necessary, just sandwiching and quilting). 

I think I have recovered from spring fever.  It's good to be back! 

A quilt finished, another begun

I finished the T-shirt quilt I was making that had my son's picture in the center with his soccer T-shirts surrounding it.  The back was fleece with soccer balls all over it.  I was going to post a picture of it, but I realized all the shirts have our town name in pretty big letters and I prefer to keep that kind of information private.  It was certainly an educational experience.  It was the first time I had used the printable fabric, and the first time I had used T-shirts in a quilt.   Here are the label contents:

Chris played soccer every spring and fall from the time he was 4 until he was 11.  These are some of the shirts he wore during those years.  In the picture, he is wearing one of the shirts in the quilt.  This is one of my favorite pictures of Chris.  I always enjoyed going to the games, sitting in my lawn chair, drinking a soda and cheering him on.  He was quite good, and for the first several years he was noticeably taller and bigger than the other kids on the team, so he was easy to spot on the field!  Chris is 19 now, almost 20.  I have great memories of watching him play.  I hope he will have the same experience with his own kids someday. 

I'm pretty happy with it.  The photo fabric is interesting.  It gives a vintage-y quality to the photo that is pretty cool.

My sewing machine came back from the shop and they said they didn't find anything wrong with it.  Maybe it just needed to be fully unplugged for a while...like a computer, maybe the trickle of power coming from the plug caused it not to forget whatever was bugging it.  I did notice that the presser foot looks crooked in relation to the feed dogs, though.  There is another repair shop near us and I may try taking it there to have that looked at.  What a pain.

In the meantime, I have started another NICU quilt.  I had a charm pack which had lots of bright colors and flowers on it, so I made a top that is 5 x 6 squares with a 2-1/2 inch border.  I have another one in mind as well but one thing at a time!  I will post pics of them when I am finished, and by then it will be time for the next installment of the McCall's Quilting mystery quilt, the final part!

Okay, Mystery Step 2 Complete - Now We Wait...

Well, I have completed step 2 of the McCall's Quilting Mystery Quilt.  Using the unfamiliar sewing machine has made it a little bit rocky though.  For one thing, the guide on the 1/4-inch foot is right in the center of the right feed dogs so I was having some trouble sometimes at the beginning of the seam because it wouldn't feed the way I wanted it to...but the sewing machine and I came to terms with that.   This step is interesting because there were some relatively large pieces cut that were not used in the instructions in this installment.  I have my ideas about them, but we'll have to wait and see. 

Here is what I cut this step:

  These were the parts I cut out.

  Here is what I ended up with once everything was sewn and the instructions were complete.

I'm particularly curious about the large rectangles of purple because they are quite large.  Also, we haven't touched the other two fabrics.  Hmmm...now we have to wait another month and a half!!

 

Posted: Wed, Feb 8 2012 6:17 PM by greenmonstr | with 3 comment(s)
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