I finished the MQ8 quilt top. I'm really happy with it. Lots of tiny pieces and way out of my comfort zone. But, I did it! I found fabric for the back and soon I'll get it quilted & bound.

In the meantime, I started on another top. This quilt has lots of HST's. Now, I've always done HST's by cutting squares, drawing the seam lines with a quarter inch wide ruler then cutting between the seams. Since there are so many in this quilt (360) I got the bright idea to use my Accuquilt Go!  DH gifted me with the die for 2" finished HST multiples & I thought, what could be easier? Cut them out 60 at a time, no dogears. Just slap them together and go on one long chain stitch session to put them together. Sounds great, right? Not. Oh, the cutting went well. I learned awhile back that if you are really careful with the placement of the material, you can cut a lot of pieces really fast with very little waste. It was the sewing that got me. Having those dog ears cut off means that you start your 1/4 inch stitch on a bit of a point. Some of them were ok, but my machine definitely thought they were a delicacy! She munched those little points like crazy. Some of the pieces she swallowed whole, right down the throat plate. A lot of the others got munched on the leading edge and just kind of bunched up in that corner. Of course, trying to pull the fabric out of her throat resulted in a lot of frayed corners. I tried using a leader, which worked for the first one, but the rest was a crapshoot. I hate to say this, but I've gone to plan B. I have just enough of the one fabric to start over with cutting the squares. The second fabric was a no go for recutting. I had to replace it with another fabric choice. But I'm going to cut those squares, mark them, sew them & cut them in half. <sigh> Maybe I can use all those die cut HST's on a paper piecing project somewhere down the line. Or something. Hoarder that I am there's no way I'll throw them out.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Go! I use it a lot for cutting border & binding strips. If I happen to have the die for the size square I want, it works pretty good for that, too. But I think the HST die is going to the back of the rack.

Wow! I had a really great week! Last week I picked up my old New Home, Jenny, from DD1 to get me through until my poor sick Annie got back from the hospital. Well, I got Jenny all set up, plugged her in, and ... let's just say the sprit was willing, but the rest? Not so much. She had power, but was going nowhere. Noticing that I was working up a really good pout, DH stepped in and spent a couple of hours on her. Took her apart and cleaned her out, greased her up and talked sweet to her & she was working like a charm. So, I was able to finish up my strips for MQ8 then get them cut. I was ready to start the next step when the hospital called & said Annie was ready to come home! Joy! A whole week earlier than I expected, too. So after work on Friday I went to pick her up. Then, while I was standing at the counter to pay her bill, I noticed a beautiful little Featherweight sitting on the worktable back there... She had just been cleaned & tuned and looked gorgeous. Then the voices started. "You want me, don't you? C'mon, take me home. You know you want to..." Cosmetically, she was almost perfect. One little nick in the paint on the top. I think probably her foot pedal came dislodged while she was in her case & dropped on her. Works like a trooper. The case was in great shape, she had her original manual & everything! So, yes, I had to have her. She will be a great little cousin to the old treadle machine DD2 has & is waiting to restore. According to her serial number she was born in 1953. I was hoping for a '55, same vintage as me, but we can't have everything now, can we? So I went from being machineless a week ago to having 3! I think I'll name her Naomi.

Anyway, got step 3 done for MQ8 with time to spare & am eagerly awaiting the next one. Now, I've got some time to decide on my next project...


I've just been beside myself since my trusty machine, Annie, got sick and had to be sent to the hospital. Has it really been only 3 days? Seems like 3 weeks! I know we're only talking about quilting here, but believe it or not, I was truly bummed. I was all mopey and sad. Not exactly bored, I mean, there are always chores to do & I finally got our taxes done. But I wanted to work on my quilt! ( Sounds like I'm 12 and having a tantrum, doesn't it?) My sweet DD2 had offered me the use of her machine, but she uses hers on a regular basis, and since it will probably be a couple of weeks before I can get mine back I didn't want to deprive her. I mentioned to DH that I was seriously considering purchasing a simple, basic machine from Walmart. Not only would it get me through this, but it would be there as backup in the event that Annie gets sick again. Well, DH made  frowney faces at me when I said that. I was a bit peeved about that, but he redeemed himself. He reminded me that when I got Annie I had given my old machine to DD1 in hopes that she or one of the DGD's would take an interest. That was a vain hope. I don't think the case has been opened in the 10 years since I gave it to her. But, I gave her a call to see if she still had it, and if so, could I pick it up? Blessed be! She still has it! I'm going to pick it up this afternoon after work! This machine, Jenny is her name, is a New Home that I had purchased back in 1977. Hopefully, although I'm sure she could use a visit to the Dr for a clean & tune, she will still work well enough that I can use her to piece until Annie comes home. Then to show my appreciation for her help I'll send her in for a check up.

In case you're wondering, I've named my machines after the much loved (and much missed) women in my life who first taught me to sew and such. Jenny was named for my paternal grandmother. Annie is named for one of my aunts who was like a mother to me growing up.

So, if all goes well, tonight I can get back to work on MQ8 and not have to worry about getting behind.

I have, I guess, an obsessive personality. When I decide to learn something new I go all out. I live, sleep, eat & breathe my chosen "thing" until I wear it out. To steal a line from one of my favorite movies, I "chew on it 'till all the flavor's gone then stick it my hair". When I decided to learn how to make my own soap and body care products, I totally devoted five years of my life to it. Not complaining, mind you. I learned a lot. And I make a pretty darn good bar of soap and face cream, etc. This led to an interest in herbal medicine, and there went another five years. Again, learned a lot, things I can really use, since I have a deep seated distrust of doctors in general. Not saying I wouldn't go to one for something really serious, but generally speaking I take care of things myself. From teas & tinctures for every possible type of discomfort to cough medicine and immune boosters, antibiotic salves to sore muscle rubs. You name it & I can probably whip it up for you. These things and all my previous excursions into the world of creative outlets have contributed to what I fondly refer to as my "hoard". At the new year I made a resolution to get rid of at least some of my stuff. You wouldn't believe some of the things I found in there! 

Among other things, there was a pretty good stash of fabric. So, thought I, What to do with all this? Oh! I've been wanting to learn to quilt forever! This is perfect! I can use this fabric, learn something new & it won't cost hardly a thing! Hah! Ever true to my nature, once I decided to learn this amazing, wonderful craft, the obsession began to set in. Already there are probably 50 quilts waiting in the wings to be made. I've signed up for Craftsy classes, read everything I could find. Every spare moment at work, real or imagined, is spent figuring out how to make a particular block or pattern or resizing one to fit a bed (have you noticed that patterns in magazines almost never are sized to fit an actual bed? Most seem to be throw, or nap sized. Nothing wrong with that, but gee, this would look great on the spare bed...). Using up my stash? Well, i DID use some of it. Made two whole quilts completely from stash fabric. Hardly made a dent. Unfortunately, I seem to have added about 80 yards of fabric plus an unknown number of fat quarters. I think I may need some help.

When MQ8 came along, I thought what fun! And it'll be a challenge - push me out of my comfort zone! I'll learn a lot. So, fabric gathered, waiting with baited breath for the first step to be announced. Cutting instructions! And, oh, what instructions. Such tiny pieces... but Glory Be! I did it. Kissed & made up with my rotary cutter and rulers (we've had a dysfunctional relationship for years. Turns out, it was all my fault.) Got all my pieces cut just in time for Step 2. Strips. Precise strips. 'K. I learned how to make an accurate scant 1/4" seam. I was really having fun with this. If I wasn't doing it, I was thinking about it. Movin' along with all those strips and havin' a ball. 2/3 of the way through, my sewing machine craps out. I took her apart & cleaned her. Twice. No good. She still won't work. So I'll be checking her into the hospital on Monday. Hopefully she'll be back soon, I don't want to get too far behind.

Having Annie quit on me like that was rough. What was I to do with the rest of my weekend? I seriously considered, just for a moment, purchasing another machine so I could keep going. Just for a moment? Hah! If it hadn't been late enough on a Saturday that any possible place to purchase a decent machine was closed I probably would have done it. But wait - Walmart is open 24 hours and they have little basic machines for under $100. Surely, that'd be ok for piecing! What a struggle ensued! In the end, common sense won out. Only because by now it was dark & I absolutely cannot see to drive in the dark. Besides, where would I put another machine? I considered starting the cutting for another quilt, but I promised myself only one project at a time (the last thing I need is another pile, of UFO's or anything else). As it is, maybe I should just use the extra time to do a chore or two around the house. DH is remarkably patient with my lapses in housekeeping. Take a deep breath. Ground. Center. You know, that concept could be worked into a quilt design...

I love my two fur children. I do. I have two dogs, sweet mixed breed rescues that have rescued me right back. There have been issues, a few. They're still puppies and a bit mischievous. Back in January I had left a half done quilt rolled up on the dining room table thinking to save some time- I'd get right back to work on it when I got home from work - well, when I got home I found it had been pulled off onto the floor & the batting along one side chewed out... I love them. I do! So, I learned to make sure everything was put away when I've finished for the night. Everything. Nothing lives on our coffee & end tables anymore - they can reach those. Bedroom and bathroom doors (especially the bathroom!) are kept closed at all times.

Now, even though I'm pretty new to this quilting thing, I amassed a pretty good collection of quilting magazines over the last couple of years. Yes, I read about it for a couple of years before taking the plunge and actually making a quilt. There were quite a few patterns that I had bookmarked, with notes about resizing and pattern changes written in the margins... you know what's coming, don't you? These magazines were stacked on a low shelf in my work room. Apparently, either the door wasn't securely latched or sweet little Fred has learned how to open the doors (the door knobs in our house are all the lever type) and has managed to keep that little piece of information to himself. I blame Fred only because his brother Copo Loki (aptly named for the trickster god of chaos) is way too small to reach, no matter how much he stretches. Arriving home from work I thought at first there had been a freak snow storm in my house! Oh! On the enclosed patio and in the back yard, too! Then, I realized the horrible truth... all those magazines, except the two I had with me at the time, were shredded into tiny little pieces and scattered everywhere! I love my boys. I really, really do!

Oh. My. Stars.In future, patterns that I'm interested in will be scanned into my computer. Or copied & attached to a project box if it's gotten that far. And stored on a shelf I have to use a step stool to reach! Considering all the tempting stuff that's in that room, I'm grateful the magazines were all they got and especially that they didn't find something that would have hurt them. But I think I'll be installing a lock on that door, just in case.


Have you ever gotten into a project & realized you've bitten off more than you can chew? That was this project for me. Henceforth, I will leave the large scale quilting designs to those much more experienced than I. I have to admit that by the time I finished this quilt, I was beginning to seriously dislike it and I just wanted it done. At some point I will go back & redo a couple of spots on the binding that aren't what they should be, but for now all I'm gonna do is wash it & put it away!

I learned a lot from this quilt, but now I'm SO ready to move on! I've decided to participate in MQ8, plus there's another project I want to start...

Since the freezer paper was such a bust for the center labyrinth design, I decided to try something else for the corners. I wanted a sun and rays in two opposing corners. This time I used Press n' Seal over the part of the quilt I wanted to work. Drew the design on it & stitched over it. It actually worked pretty well. Didn't create a lot of extra bulk, didn't come loose until I asked it to. Wasn't quite as easy as I imagined it would be to remove - it pulled some of the stitching. I had to use tweezers to get some of the pieces out from under the stitches.

I don't think you can see the stitching too well in the second pic (top right & bottom left as you're looking at it)... but you can get the idea. The first pic is with the Press n' Seal on the quilt, lines drawn but not stitched. I like that you can see the quilt top clearly through the plastic so when you're drawing your design you can see exactly where it will wind up.

I'm really having second thoughts about the other two corners. I was going to do a beehive design and some meander stitching with a couple of bees. I've been practicing on paper but this will require free motion work - and I am so not there yet. However, if I don't use that idea I haven't a clue what to do there.

I have come to the conclusion that until I cultivate some talent for this I should maybe stick with quilting in the ditch. I did the tiny stitch thing at the beginning & end of each piece of stitching, but I don't think it anchored any better than than a backstitch would have, and I'm betting some of it comes loose. So far I have just used my walking foot when quilting. I haven't had the courage to try FMQ on an actual quilt yet but I can see why continuous designs are preferred. Clearly my imagination is far more talented than my hands! Still, I'm having a great time trying.

Next up, the remaining two corners.  It looks so easy in my head...

OMS! What an adventure this quilt is turning out to be! And, quite the learning experience, too. Last time I posted, I had managed to get the quilting design drawn onto freezer paper. I used an exacto knife to cut on the drawn lines then ironed the freezer paper onto my sandwiched quilt. I didn't think to get pics of this process and should have - it was quite entertaining.  Lesson learned: freezer paper templates work great for small areas. For an entire quilt? not so much. By the time I got it to my machine, it was starting to come loose & the bulk was difficult to handle on my little short arm machine. IBefore long I was ready to switch my tea for something way stronger. So back to the cutting table I went. I had initially planned to use a Frixion pen to mark the quilt lines, then decided not to because another QCA member had warned about the fact that although the marked lines go away when heat is applied, they come back when cold. She was right, but  after unsuccessfully trying to use just the freezer paper, I reconsidered. And, I admit, capitulated. My reasoning was that even though marked lines come back if exposed to cold, 1) hopefully most of my lines would be stitched over and so would not show if this were to happen and 2) I couldn't imagine a circumstance when this quilt would be exposed to temps that cold (my own experiments had the marks coming back only after being in the freezer or showing up very lightly after being in the fridge for about half an hour. They went away again after being re-exposed to heat.). The only other things I had to mark with were white - and a lot of this quilt is white. So, I wound up using the red Frixion pen and made little dots instead of lines, and mostly covered them with my stitching, which was also red. I'll admit to a couple of other issues. After cutting the sew lines on the freezer paper it was really floppy. I thought I had all the half-circle "arms" lined up just right & I didn't. I didn't even notice it until today (and I did this 2 days ago), so it will have to do. While I was pressing the freezer paper on, my iron went crazy and started vomiting water all over everything - quilt, floor, me. I had the steam turned off and apparently it was feeling ignored & threw a tantrum. (Does anyone else have days like this?) In spite of me, the center quilting design is done.  Oh! Almost forgot to mention: the celtic knots on the quilt? I painted them on with a stencil & a Shiva paint stick. I was really pleased with how well they turned out.  Tomorrow I'll start working on the rest of the quilting. Wish me luck!

I'm in the process of designing the quilting for a top I just completed. I want the center of the quilt to be a labyrinth design. I finally got the design onto freezer paper. I needed to have 5 concentric circles, smallest 8" diameter, largest 33" diameter. I tried the old string & pencil method. I must be more uncoordinated than I thought because my lines were all over the place. I wanted a 2.5" "pathway" between each circle, so I got to rummaging around the hoard and found a 2.5" square template. I wound up drawing the whole thing with that square template. Who'da thunk you could draw perfect circles with a straight edge template? It took awhile but worked like a charm. Once I had the circles drawn, I erased the parts I didn't want to make the labyrinth pathways. Next, I'll cut the sewing lines with an exacto and iron the freezer paper onto my quilt top. Looking forward to having the whole day tomorrow to work on it!

As I said before, I had made mom a quilt a dozen or so years ago with all our pictures on it. Nothing but false starts & failures since then... until now. I actually finished one! Well, I couldn't have picked an easier design: 5" (finished) squares set on point, but I wanted to do something that wouldn't push my skill set too far! There are plenty of humility stitches in this quilt, but I'm quite proud of myself. It almost wasn't, though. One day in mid-quilt I came home to find that my dogs had managed to get ahold of it & chewed up quite a bit of the batting around the edges. Fortunately I was able to cut out the damaged parts & piece in new batting from the leftovers.There were a couple of tooth holes in the top, but were close enough to the edge to cover with binding. And bonus! ALL of the fabric and batting came from my stash! A tiny little dent in the pile (unless you count the 10 yards I bought last weekend...) It's intended to be a nap quilt - but here it's spread out on the guest bed. Already working on the next one!

woo-hoo! It worked!. Lousy shot, this one, but this is the quilt I made Mom way back when.

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I guess I don't get out much. Truth be told, if I didn't have to go out to go to work I'd probably never leave home. In this day & age internet shopping is so easy... but I like to see and fondle fabrics before I purchase them. The streets around my house are all torn up & difficult to navigate right now (improvements?!). It's a lovely warm morning so I decided to take a walk. I'd driven by Cabbage Rose Quilt Shop before, but always in a hurry and never stopped. So this morning I walked to the shop to have a look around. It's a small shop in a lovely log cabin building. She has a beautiful selection of fabrics, and some quilting notions, if you're into applique or other handwork there is plenty to interest you. I know I'm supposed to be working on reducing my stash, but I purchased 10 yards of fabric while I was there. Imagine, all that lovely fabric less than half a mile from my house! There is a Joanns about 3/4 of a mile further down the road - and she doesn't carry products that Joanns does - can't compete pricewise. But what she does have is gorgeous! And I'm all for supporting local small business when I can. So if you happen to be in Mesa, AZ stop by and take a look! 260 N Dobson Rd. Now, what to do with that fabric?

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My machine doesn't have a 1/4" seam marking. I tried using masking tape. It worked fine, but left a ruckka residue mess on my machine when I removed it. So I purchased a package of those repositionable vinyl-like seam guide strips. They worked as advertised: they left no residue on my machine, and they are indeed repositionable. So much so that the fabric riding along side it repositioned it after the first few passes. <sigh> I resorted to painter's tape. Stays put until you move it, no residue left behind, and bonus! it's cheap.

I've always loved quilts. My grandmother was a quilter and her beautiful quilts are part of the childhood memories I have. I was amazed that so many tiny, disparate pieces of fabric could be brought together into such a beautiful thing, and I wanted to do that, too! Unfortunately, she died when I was still quite young and although a much loved aunt taught me some of the basics long ago & far away, quilting became a skill much coveted but relegated to the back burner of my life. 

Over the years there have been a few false starts. About a dozen years ago I made my mother a simple quilt that incorporated pictures of the family. It was returned to me when she passed away. It lives on a chair in my bedroom, never missing an opportunity to remind me how lonely it is being an only quilt. (does anyone else have conversations with their stuff? or is it just me...) 

A few years ago I decided to make another quilt.. Oh, my stars!! What a disaster that was! It was then that I learned the importance of accuracy when measuring & cutting. Seriously, nothing fit together. The remains were tossed into my UFO box and eventually tossed out. Then last year I decided to try again. Maybe a quilt-as-you-go project would be just the ticket! Then again, maybe not. There were a few flaws in my plan. First, I was going to do this all by hand. Piecing & quilting. Bad choice. I have arthritis now & I found out that handwork was not going to be part of my daily life. Second, I was using a marking pen that claimed to be water soluble to draw the quilting design on my blocks. There must be something wrong with my water because the marks refused to leave when asked. Third, I quickly discovered that a project done entirely by hand was not going to feed my need for instant gratification, or even reasonably noticeable progress. At the rate I was going this could take years. Another project left unfinished, staring accusingly at me every time I went into my "computer room". There is a computer in there... along with an embarrassingly huge collection of, uh, stuff. Sewing stuff, craft stuff, soap making stuff, herbs, oils, books. And a huge container (plus several bags & a few piles) of fabric. Mostly fat quarters. I can't help myself. Every time I go somewhere, if I see a fat quarter I have to make it mine. Just in case. You never know. Someday I'll find a use for it. Someday I'm gonna learn to quilt! (can we say hoarder?)

As the new year loomed closer the fates & my husband conspired to make it so. At Christmas, DH gifted me with an Accuquilt Go! no doubt so he would no longer have to listen to me whine about my bad relationship with my rotary cutter & ruler. And my New Year's resolution was to do away with at least part of my hoard. Honestly, I was thinking about cleaning out closets when I made that resolution, but a dent in the pile is a dent in the pile, right? Maybe handwork & I don't play nice together any more but I do have a sewing machine. And lots  of fabric. So, 2013 is to be the year I learn to machine quilt. Really. Nana, are you watching?