Work-in-Progress Girl


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)

practise not perfection

The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.

Quilting Swirls

This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.

Quilting Swirls

I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.

Quilting Swirls

Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.

If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.

I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:

Quilting set-up

That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.

Quilting set-up

These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.

Quilting set-up

Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.

The things we do for our hobbies.


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Year in Review, Year Ahead

Normally I like to do a year in review post, with photo mosaics of everything I made over the year… but I did a really poor job of keeping track this year. 2014 was the year of stress at my house – largely of the Not My Story to Tell variety – but being mostly always in the Fraught with Tension way of living made it really hard to keep on top of things I normally don’t even think about doing. For instance, if I’m not sewing I’m probably reading, but somehow I only updated my Goodreads account to the tune of eight books and nothing after February. (And of those eight, one of them is a picture book, one/kind of two a children’s book, and three graphic novels. Not exactly the best reflection of my usual reading habits.) In the craft world, there are lots of things I know I didn’t write about here and sometimes didn’t even photograph (hence my not posting about them) before sending them away. I don’t think I had any major finishes (as in: finished quilts), though I did do a ton of quilt block sewing (both for myself and for bees) and small project sewing, but let’s face it: when I’m stressed, I shop. And I stress shopped the heck out of the various online fabric establishments. I stress shopped myself into an even bigger stash than I’d already had. I stress shopped myself into being bored of fabric shopping. (Seriously: I had an email today about 40% off super sale fabrics at someone’s website and I went and looked around and there were only THREE prints I was vaguely interested in and not enough to even buy them.) I stress shopped so much that I’m pretty sure if I went back to count, more than half of my posts over the year were likely Sunday Stash posts.

So let’s forget about my 2014 and move on to 2015. Every year I have the general goal of finishing more than I start and of tackling more of my UFO/WIP pile. This year I decided to get a little bit more organized about it. Someone – Michelle? – sent me a link to From Pixels to Patchwork‘s Projects At A Glance worksheets. They are fantastic printables and I’ve already got 40+ worth of projects listed in the the Projects at a Glance sheet and I’ve started working up my Individual Project Sheets for the items I’d like to get finished (or nearly so?) in 2015. But while they’re great in a binder in my sewing room, they don’t work as great online…

So here’s a not at all finessed online version, based entirely off of the Pixels to Patchwork sheet, just of the top ten items that I’d like to get done this year. It’s a lot of doing for me because I’ve never finished more than one or two large sized quilts in a year before and many of these haven’t even been started, but the general goal is to get one throw-sized quilt done for each of my closest family members (mom, dad, sister, sister, brother-in-law) and then a few assorted other things.

Project Name Description Target Date Project Stage
1 Lime and Brown Hastag Baby Quilt for Jen’s friend Jan 15, 2015 Sewing Blocks
2 Easter Mini Mini Quilt for Mom February Cross-stitch Finished – all other work needed
3 Confetti-Go-Lucky Quilt for Mom (Confetti pattern) February Mid-quilting
4 Quarter Section Quilt for Dad (using Botanics?) December Fabric and pattern purchased
5 Red, White & Black Quilt for Jen (Charm Squares) December Fabric purchased, no pattern necessary
6 Navy & Citron 16-Patch Quilt for Alexis December Quilt top finished, needs backing…
7 Flag Quilt Quilt for Alex (using Parson Grey?) December Fabric purchased, have pattern
8 Minimalist Circles Pattern Testing for Michelle ?? Use stash fabric
9 Kite Flight Craftsy Kit ?? Have kit
10 Jeremy’s MIL Quilt Bento Box quilt top ?? Need to baste, quilt, and bind

It’s been a goal the last couple years to finally use one of the quilt kits I’ve got stashed away, so Katy of Lethargic Lass got to choose one of the kits from my list, which were slotted in at spaces 41-49, I think, and she choose 42, because that is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Forty-two in this case happened to line up with a Craftsy Kit, the previously mentioned “Kite Flight” – a very lovely quilt. Another goal of mine is to make use of a Craftsy class, so hopefully that quilt will also get a little bit of slightly more adventurous free motion quilting, since most of my Craftsy classes are on that topic.

The one called “Jeremy’s MIL Quilt” is actually a completed quilt top that was the last quilt sewn by my friend Jeremy’s mother-in-law before she passed away earlier this year (2014). Jeremy’s wife gave me her Mom’s sewing machine, the Juki that I’ve talked about in the past, and also gave me that last quilt top and its backing to finish off. I didn’t want to work on it until I was more confident with my quilting, so I haven’t started it yet. I’d like to give the completed quilt back to Sherri and Jeremy, so it needs to be on the list too. (I’m still not very confident with my quilting, though, so hopefully I can get one or two more quilts under my proverbial belt before I tackle that one. The machine is in the shop right now, though, having developed a brutal and godawful and unfortunate squeak. Hopefully I’ll have it back in a week or two so that I can do some of the stuff I don’t like doing on the machine I have got at home.)

Anyway, this getting to be a very long, very pictureless post. So to sum up:

2014 – the suck
2015 – can’t possibly be worse will be better

Goals
1. Practise more FMQ/make use of a Craftsy class
2. Finish more than I start
3. Use more of my stash than I add to it
4. Sew up a kit from my stash
5. Keep better records (ie. don’t rely on Instagram)

And just so this isn’t a totally pictureless post, here is a picture of the beginnings of my first project on the list, the brown and lime hashtag quilt:

Brown & Lime Hashtag

Which, by the way, came from Instagram. Because I’ve been obsessively posting there lately. (I’m on vacation from work this week. So lots of time to snap pictures, I guess…)

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Links in the sidebar!


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Gypsy Wife Quiltalong – August!

So I’m still ticking along with the Gypsy Wife Quiltalong. Sort of… I’m still months behind on my low volume version, but I am all caught up with the brights version. First up, a block I forgot to photograph last month. Not the most exciting block in the world, which could be why I forgot it…

Gyspy Wife

And then all my August blocks. Which are more of the not-very exciting same.

Gypsy Wife QAL August Blocks

Yawn. Eight square in square blocks, and then the central block is made up for four incomplete square in square blocks. Not so very exciting. But there’s a lot of square in square blocks to go into this quilt, so I guess it’s a good thing any time we get to knock a pile of them off the list. Maybe next month will be more interesting?

I’d really like to get back into things with the low volume version, but I think it might be left on the back burner a while. I’ve got a lot of other things I want to keep working on. Quilts to quilts, swap projects to swap, etc.

If you’re sewing along with us, come link up with Rachel at Farm Gal Designs. The prize this month is a Fat Eighth bundle of Netorious from Cotton + Steel basics and a hexagons pack of Figures from Zen Chic.

In other news, I’m out of town for the weekend, but when I’m back, I hope to get more comments answered from my birthday giveaway post. I forgot my cell phone at home, so I’ve only got internet access while I’m at the hotel (and we’re not here for too much longer). Yesterday the Tyrrell Museum and the HooDoos and Horseshoe Canyon, today… I don’t know. Atlas Coal Mine, anyway, but we’ll probably head back to Calgary before it gets too late. (I’ve been reminded this trip that my dad is getting old – we hiked down to the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon and back up and for the first time in my life, he needed more breaks than me.)

Horseshoe Canyon, Alberta
Horseshoe Canyon

020
ClumsyKristel

023
ClumsyPapa


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Juki TL98E

So in a bit of good news/bad news, a good friend’s mother-in-law, who was a quilter, recently passed away and left behind a very nice array of quilting supplies and sewing machines. None of her family members are interested, so they had me over to her house to look through her things and see if I wanted anything. She had a Grace quilt frame and three sewing machines and all the various accoutrements. As nice as it might be to learn to quilt with a frame, I really don’t have the room for it – I rent two bedrooms in my sister’s house and could make use of the basement, but it is unfinished and none of the plug-ins are connected yet – and whenever I wind up moving out of here, the chances of my having that kind of space are pretty slim anyway. She also had a really lovely old Singer sewing machine, which I didn’t take home either:

Look at this thing... So pretty!

So lovely (so dusty!), but I wouldn’t use it (and don’t know if it was in working condition) and again… don’t really have room to store extra things like a sewing machine I wouldn’t use. Even if it is lovely as anything.

What I did bring home was the quilt that was on the frame – which I plan to quilt up and return to my friend and his family – and a Juki TL98E sewing machine.

Juki TL 98E

This straight-stitch only machine was the one the owner used on her quilting frame and it was all set up and ready to go with the aforementioned quilt. I brought it home a couple weeks ago, but haven’t had a chance to look at it until last night, when I finally took off the cover, figured out how to thread it (Thanks to Sarah for the help with that and the bobbin!), and tried it out.

X!X!XFAILURE ALERTX!X!X

I haven’t been able to sew more than a single stitch with it yet! Every time I try to sew, the top thread breaks… or at least I think that’s what happening. At first I thought it was unthreading, somehow, but looking at it more closely, there’s a shredded thread every single time.

012

This is what it’s looking like from the top – one, two or three stitches, and then the top thread is pulled through to the back and the needle is just going up and down with nothing in it.

013

And then from the bottom.

The things I’ve tried include:
1. Changing the needle – I switched it first from a 100/16 to an 80/12. As far as I can tell, she only used Schmetz Universal needles in the machine — all the supplies for the machine were in the same zipper bag and that’s all we found — so I’m not sure if using them rather than the ones recommended by the manual is causing a problem. I also changed the needle again, in case there was a flaw in the first 80/12 needle I used.
2. Changing from the FMQ foot to a regular piecing foot and being sure the feed dogs were engaged. (They were.)
3. Changing the thread – she had a different thread in the bobbin than on the top of the machine, so I wound a new bobbin from a Guttermann spool I recently bought and used the same thread on top and bottom.
4. Cleaning inside the machine. (Repeat this a lot of times, culminating in the time when I took off the throat plate so I could sweep out dust around the feed dogs, dropped one of the throat plate screws on the floor, and lost it down the air vent. (I tried using a fridge magnet to sweep around inside and see if I could get it back, but no luck.)
5. Changing the bobbin case tension (it seemed to unspool more quickly than I imagined from the description in the manual – it was a bit of work to find the sweet spot where it moved without sticking, but wasn’t just falling like happens when you drop a bobbin while holding onto the thread).
6. Back way up near the top of the list: threading and unthreading and rethreading and threading again, lest I was doing something wrong, again and again ad nauseum, pretty much every time I tried anything and it didn’t work, I’d do this again. And then again for good measure. I tried turning the spool the other direction on the spool rod too, just in case that was wrong.
7. Changing the stitch length. That shouldn’t have made such an issue, but it was set to six, so I switched it back to ~2.
8. Fiddling with the presser foot pressure. It seems very tight, regardless of where I set it, but the fabric feeds through nicely regardless.
9. Fiddling with the tension knob – I’ve gone higher and I’ve gone lower, and I still haven’t managed to do any more than what you can see in the picture above.

It was obviously a machine she used, so I do think there’s got to be something I am doing wrong, but I can’t figure out what it is. I haven’t got any spare money at the moment, but I’m a little tempted to take it in somewhere to get it serviced and see if they can’t help me figure it out. It really does need to be properly cleaned (because even after my multiple attempts, I keep finding new bits of dust to fish out of the works every time I open it up) and there was a half an inch of broken needle inside the… well, where you access the bobbin mechanism, so maybe something was damaged by that she hadn’t discovered it yet. Or maybe that’s why the quilt on the frame wasn’t started yet, maybe there was some kind of problem.

I haven’t paid my friend anything for the machine yet – and it was a conditional yes, I’ll take it off your hands, in the sense of being yes, I’ll take it if I can figure it out – but I hate to feel thwarted by a sewing machine. I’ve been sewing for years and years! A piece of machinery, even a complex one, shouldn’t be giving me quite this much trouble!


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Random Thursday

I have eleventy billion comments to respond to and also I need to go to bed because I work a night shift tonight and want to at least get a couple hour’s nap in before then and also I need to do laundry and vacuum and take out recycling to the bin and and and so here’s a bit of random bits and pieces:

1. My goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, February:

Hexaquilt

Acacia

Baste both these quilt tops. I feel like that’s not very ambitious, but I know myself and if I say “Baste Quilt and Bind” for even one of them… I probably won’t get it done. I just hope I have enough pins to do both tops. (I’m thinking I might, maybe, possibly, try to quilt the Acacia quilt instead of tying it like I’ve been saying. But we’ll see. If I do tie it, I’m thinking I should just tape it down and tie it while it’s on the floor instead of pin-basting first then tying it. Tying is basically just basting anyway, just slightly more securely and one hopes with longer lasting results.)

2. Craftsy Mystery Box Saga
FreeSpirit Garden FQ Pack

The end of the Craftsy Mystery Box saga. If you remember, I’d asked to have 6 additional FQs sent out to me to complete my order. The terminally chipper Bob sent me this 20 FQ pack of FreeSpirit Garden fabrics. It’s not exactly what I’d have picked out, if I’d picked out my own replacement fabric, but it’s fabric I’ll use and some of it I even like quite a lot. (There’s lots of fabric in the world I wouldn’t buy but like well enough. This is some of it.)

3. Fandom Stuff
Sherlock and Watson charms

I bought some Sherlock charms from RedBowTie on Etsy. I’ll talk more about that later, though. In the background of the picture is some fabric I bought, printed to look like the wallpaper in the lounge/living room at 221b Baker Street. I’ll talk more about that later too.

4. Hey, it’s Kristel in person!

I haven’t posted one of these here in a while. If you’re curious what’s up with the Sherlock stuff, you could watch the video. But it’s 12 minutes. And I say um a lot. So, you know. Entirely up to you 😀 Also, if you’re curious what the video is about, me and some friends on Livejournal post Talk to Me Tuesday videos on as many Tuesdays per year as we can manage. I aim for one every other week, but sometimes do them more often than that and sometimes less often. This one I recorded today… I’m behind on EVERYTHING this week.


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Ramble Ramble (Random Thursday)

So it’s been a little while. I’ve been sewing, though, so I figure it’s all good! I meant to post last week, but then I just didn’t have anything to show and I didn’t even work on reorganizing my sewing room, so then I was going to post over the weekend, but it was my weekend off and I was actually sewing and no way was I stopping just to write a blog post. And then this has been a weird, weird week. I normally work a really set schedule, but I had a first aid course to attend on Tuesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours from 6 AM to 9 AM) and then I had a training thing on Wednesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours) and at least when I’m working my normal 6-2:30, I can get home when there’s still a drop or two of sun in the sky, but coming home after 5 pm means it’s already dark enough not to make photo taking virtually impossible.

I used to take photos of everything with flash because fuck it, what else can I do? But I’ve been trying to be at least a little better with my picture taking. And to that end, I asked my mom to buy me a light box for Christmas. Which yay, lightbox! But I can’t get enough light into it! I can clamp lights onto the table for either side, but I don’t have any lamps high enough to get above it and the lighting in my sewing room is unbelievably terrible (I could take off the light cover, which would help a little, but it’s not the most attractive of looks, having a bare bulb), so even the light box isn’t helping too much! (I’ve been trying to use one of the clamp on lights from the top and one from the left and then tilting my sewing lamp in from the right, but the angle is all wrong and the lamp on top is too heavy and it rests right on the light box surface, so it doesn’t really diffuse the light properly. Basically I’m winding up with kind of yellow photos and still having shadows where shadows ought not to be. A couple of Giveaway Day’s ago I won a pdf guide to photography from someone, but do you think I can find that file now?

Anyway, on the subject of Giveaway Day – I never did find a good entry to pop this in, but if I’m calling this one random, then why not now? (Finally!) This December I won a giveaway from Stephanie at Simple Sewendipity!

Heat Pad

How pretty is that? It’s a heating pad with lavender in it and it just smells unbelievably delicious. You microwave it to heat it up and then just apply wherever needs some extra warmth. Lovely! (I kind of want to pull it off the heating pad, though, and just hang it up in my sewing room it’s so pretty!)

Right, so, weekend sewing. I started out by pulling a long-standing WIP off the design wall:

Design Wall

I think I started this one about two years ago and I love it immensely, but it just seems like so much work every time I think about it! (It’s all with inset seams and it just gets heavier and harder to put in the bricks each time.) I’m a little worried it’s going to fade since it gets a shot of sun every day, and also it’s kind of made my design wall useless to me. So time to go.

Now this is all that’s up there:

Design Wall

Two of these are going away because they’re bee blocks. The other is my first Gypsy Wife block – just testing things out!

Hive 12: January Block

This is my first Stash Bee block, for Heather at Quilts in the Queue. This block was paper-pieced in the centre and then it’s just a sea of white around. I had to make this one twice – the first one when I was pressing it, suddenly came up with two dots of that blue water-erasable ink, which was a bit weird because I hadn’t been using the stuff! It didn’t come off with water like it usually does, so I thought it was going to be garbage and I rotary cut off the white from the sides so that I could trim it down into sizes useful for remaking the block. About an hour later, one of the dots had disappeared and now the second one has gone away, so I don’t know what that was all about. I still have that extra centre unit, but it’s got a 1/4 inch border of white sewn on and I’m not sure it’ll be easy to get off – I’d left on the paper and so I’d used a tiny little stitch to sew it down, and I don’t relish the thought of ripping all those little stitches.

Aeneous - January block

And this is my last block for the Simply Solids group on Flickr, for Laura at Waffle Kisses. This block uses this herringbone tutorial from Bijou Lovely and I think it comes out pretty great looking. I’m really happy with this one and hope the recipient will be happy too.

I also sewed up an entire quilt top, which you can see on Instagram (I’m @clumsykristel), but I haven’t been able to take a proper decent shot of it. It’s too big to tape to the wall for a photo and my yard is such a snowy mess that I can’t take it out and pin it to the fence either. Anyway, hopefully the backing material will arrive soon and then I’ll be able to take a finished photo! (I hope!)

Linking up with Really Random Thursday and Let’s Bee Social:

randomeer LinkyBees


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2013 in Review

Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.

Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.

And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.

Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:

2013 Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.

2013 - Quilts and Quilt Tops

It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:

2013 - Minis & Flags

These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)

2013 - All the Little Finishes

And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)

So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.

(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)


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Happy New Year! (Assorted bits of bloggish clean-up)

I don’t know where all the time went over the last week or two, but somehow none of the entries I meant to write and post got written:

– the year in review
– my goals for 2014
– one or two last Sunday Stash posts with Fiona of Finding Fifth (The Stash link-up will transfer to Molli Sparkles in 2014)
– a post about why I’m fabric fasting for part of 2014
– a post about all the WIPs I’d like to work on in 2014

I’d hoped to finish my Sunshine pillow too. But no dice. When I was in Saskatchewan before Christmas, I spent significantly less time online than I thought I might – played A LOT of cards with my parents, spent a night over at my Grandma’s house, did a bit of baking – so I came home with over 100 blog posts in my Feedly queue and then I had house guests for five days and my sewing room still hasn’t been cleaned up. (I slept in there while we had guests. It’s covered in dirty laundry and piles of things that I moved from one place to another, either because I had to sleep on the futon – a common storage spot – or because we had to dismantle my sewing table and take it downstairs for Christmas dinner.) Sometimes when I get overwhelmed by a job, I just kind of check out and go fishing instead. (In this case, fishing equals watching tv and spending too much time in bed.)

Anyway, I had my big Sew Mama Sew giveaway in December and never properly announced the winners (I did update the posts themselves, but that’s it), so the winners there were:

canvas248
cotton-malaysia
cotton-47-canada

Katherine blogs at Sew Me Something Good and she’s already received her prize – it only went across the city! (If I had a car, I might have hand-delivered it, alas it’s a long, long, long trip by transit.) Zura blogs at Sew Retro Chic and lives in Malaysia, so I don’t think it’s arrived yet. I asked to send it by air mail, but when I checked my receipt afterward, I saw they’d only charged me for surface, so it’ll probably take 2 months or something ridiculous to arrive. Leigh Anne blogs at Ella’s Cottage – not sure if she’s received it or not, but she’s only across the country in PEI, so I hope CanadaPost managed to get it there in a timely way!

I was supposed to draw my next giveaway, these two Color Me Happy mini-charm packs on December 27, but didn’t manage it until last night.

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My winner this time around was the lovely Ashley of Wasn’t Quilt in a Day:

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I’ll pop those into the mail tomorrow or Saturday for Ashley.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get my shit together enough for a proper post. I wouldn’t hold my breath though… I’m back up to 47 blog posts to read and I can’t even think of what to do first. (Overwhelmed, therefore shutting down. I suppose I should start with the laundry though. That’s easy and would clean up a good half of what’s driving me nuts about my sewing room.)


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First Snow of the Year (and a bit of Sunday Stash)

First snow of the year. Ugh.

I don’t know who the people are in this video – presumably whoever uploaded the song to YouTube. The music is First Snow of the Year by Hawksley Workman. He had a fun album several years ago called Almost a Full Moon, which was partly a Christmas album, but also contained a few songs like this that are more about the experience of winter than necessarily the holidays. Anyway, I was working on a mix cd with some autumn songs on it (including Hawksley’s gorgeously melancholy song Autumn’s Here), but too late for that, I guess!

Anyway, fabric! Surprisingly, I don’t have new stash to share. (Also thankfully? Well, my credit card thanks me. The credit card company probably doesn’t.) What I’m showing you today is something I bought a little while ago, but there was such an influx of fabric at the time (I tend to shop when I’m depressed, and this fall was a bit of a miserable one for various reasons – it’s something I’m aware I do and I try to combat it because it’s such a useless, pointless exercise and one that typically leaves me feeling worse because it feels wasteful to spend money on unnecessary things and, well, I’m sure you’re aware how negative thoughts can spiral) that I never ended up talking about it.

Stash stash stash

So this fabric all came from a shop on Etsy called Sew Fine Fabric. This shop is kind of unique in that her shipping to Canada is so reasonable, it’s almost like purchasing fabric from a local shop. (Seriously: 4.50 US$ flat rate to Canada. Unless you a request a custom order that is over 4 lbs, which price she doesn’t mention except to say that it’s still cheaper than standard.) Some of her fabrics might be a touch more expensive than elsewhere (probably to off-set the shipping costs), but I think it still comes out better for the average Canadian shopper than almost any other shop I’ve seen out of the US.

"Floret" in Raspberry from New Leaf Collection by Daisy Janie

This shop focusses a lot of organic fabrics, which is something I don’t buy a lot of. I have a bit of it, here and there, but it is quite expensive and that does put me a off a little. Still, I loved the colour of this print: “Floret” in Raspberry from New Leaf Collection by Daisy Janie. Lovely. (It didn’t photograph particularly well – it looks most like itself in the first shot with all the fabrics.)

Circle and Square Stitch from Michael Miller

And then there’s the well loved Circle and Square Stitch prints from Michael Miller. They’re just fun fabrics (and I gave away a chunk I had in orange) and I think they’ll be useful for a lot of things, so there they are.

Starcomb from Curious Nature by Parson Gray

And finally some Curious Nature. These are actually two different Starcomb prints, one of them has a kind of blueish-grey background and the other a… kind of greenish stone grey. I guess I shouldn’t have photographed them together. I was thinking that while I’ve got plans for a quilt for my mom and my sister (and a finished top for my younger sister), I’ve never put too much thought into a quilt for my dad. So Parson Gray/David Butler, right? I don’t think my dad would turn up his nose at anything I made him, even if I made him a pink floral quilt like I made for my grandma, but I might as well aim in a slightly more masculine direction, right?

Anyway, linking up with Finding Fifth‘s Sunday Stash, this week hosted by the lovely Michelle, of Squeek Crafts/Factotum of Arts:

Finding Fifth

And now I’m going to start pressing fabric – running the iron and having billowing steam (not that I will – my nearly brand new Rowenta iron has started leaking water from the base, so I’ve been running it water free the last few days) might warm me up a bit!


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Random Thursday

Is this supposed to be a link-up or is it just really… Random Thursday? Well, here’s a few random bits and bobs:

1. Next project

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I spent an embarrassingly long time sitting and staring at that one hexie yesterday trying to decide which way to go with it. The Paper Pieces package recommends sewing through the paper, but I want to use them multiple times and so I can’t help thinking it MUST be better for the paper not to sew through. The package does say you can keep reusing them anyway, but don’t they get all damaged in the corners where the stitches go? I don’t know. I’ve been planning today to watch a few videos on YouTube to see if I can decide which looks a more likely route for me.

2. Birdie Sling

Birdie Sling fabrics

Not sold on the denim yarn-dyed Essex Linen. I like it, a lot, but it feels too pale compared to the darker blue, maybe? (Special thanks to Michelle for her contribution to these fabrics being in my stash! :D) I thought from photos online that maybe it would be a darker blue than it is. I think a bag looks top-heavy if you put the darker fabric on top, and I could switch it so that the print fabric is on the bottom, but honestly I don’t want that much of the print on display. The bag on the pattern cover has a darker top band, but I think that large print on the bottom (with the smaller print up top) counter-acts the top-heaviness. I’ll have to think about it. I might have some Kona Nightfall fabric that would probably work (maybe?) and would definitely be darker. I don’t want to have to buy more fabric, in any case.

3. Leftover bits from something I’ve been working on.

Liberty Scraps

Liberty scraps. I’m not a big fan of Liberty (by and large I find their prints to be overly fussy, but there are a few I do like, even though they are fussy little florals), but wanted to see what the Tana Lawn was like to work with. I’m not 100% on board with the thing I made that generated these scraps (photos later – I want to be more happy with it before I share) and I wound up putting interfacing on the fabric because it was too light-weight (compared to the linen I paired it with). It also smelled a bit of bug spray – I have to assume that’s the fault of the seller, not the fabric maker, but I’ve been airing it out and can’t smell it any longer. (Also, I could smell bugspray at work the other day where no bug spray existed, so maybe I had some crossed wires in my brain…)

4. The solids Churn Dash.

Churn Dash

Just need a few more… Well, I need one more row’s worth, plus I’m waiting for 2 that will be sent to me. Love how this is coming together.

5. Some of my problem spots with the FMQ on the Star Surround project. If you have suggestions or advice for avoiding, please let me know!

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There’s lot of little things to nit pick with this one, which I will nit-pick in other photos instead, what I took this photo for was the kind of jerkiness of it. I didn’t get a smooth loop at all on that top one, which was just me needing to stop and get my hands in a better position (but just pushing through anyway). What really bothers me is the stitches just before it goes from a straight(ish) downward line into the loop – you can see a spot where I went from vertical almost immediately to horizontal, and although I mentioned this was a spot where I’d needed to reposition my hands, I ALSO had that same issue in places (sometimes) where I did come to a complete stop, and then started again. Sometimes I could get a smooth restart and then other times I’d go off in a completely different direction than I really “should” have. I KNOW that it’s not going to show much in the grand scheme of things (which is why I didn’t pick out any of my stitches, except where there were thread breaks and the one time I had a toe catcher), but I’d still rather learn to prevent it.

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Okay. Quarter-inch stitches vs sixteenth of an inch stitches. I know this is about the speed of my hands relative to the speed of the machine, but… how should I sew into a curve to keep my stitches smaller and more uniform? I know, practise. Yay, practise. But should I be giving it a little more gas at the beginning of the curve or easing off…? Move my hands faster as I go into that motion? I don’t know. As with all my other little issues, they seemed to hit intermittently – every time I congratulated myself for a particularly well done bit, I’d wind up doing something dumb 😀 (If I hadn’t used such garish fabrics, I’d show you my practise stitches! My best rows were the first two, before I started paying attention to what I was doing, before I remembered to turn my stitch length to zero even!, then they got progressively worse for a bit while I figured out what to do to improve things, and then they started to get better again. My one practise row of stippling is… appalling. There’s a reason I haven’t done it for realsies yet. Definitely need a whole practise sandwich just for that! But I want to go through Leah Day’s method of practising in stages – u shapes, lobster claw shapes, etc. – before joining it all up in a properly random stipple.)

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Okay, this doesn’t show super clearly because I could not convince my camera to focus on the problem spot rather than a spot an inch above it. But that particularly long looking stitch kind of in the bottom middle of the lower loop… My machine skipped a stitch. It only happened a couple times in the whole quilt, but I seem to remember reading something somewhere about what that means, but I can’t seem to find any information on the topic now! (I tried googling FMQ skipped stitch, but that didn’t help. It’s possible I just got bored of looking for answers, though, so I should probably search it again now that I’m not so focussed on getting that quilt done done done!) A couple of my skipped stitches, I went in with a needle and thread and couched the skipped bit (didn’t want to unpick, also didn’t want to leave a loop big enough for a kid’s finger to go into), but I didn’t do it every time. (It was awkward! And I don’t know how stable that couching will be, it’s not like with embroidery where you can secure it really easily on the back.)

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Okay. You can see a bit of this in most of my photos, but the bobbin thread is even more visible in this photo because the darker part of the variegated thread is on the bobbin thread here, with a very pale part on top. I always thought this was a tension issue, but my machine is set at almost the highest tension available. I didn’t adjust it to the higher setting because it didn’t do this all the time I was FMQing, so I wondered if something else was at work?

I don’t know. If any of you do much FMQing and have thoughts or suggestions, let me know! I know it’s not easy to diagnose when you can’t see what I do when I quilt, but I figured someone might have thoughts.

[Also, I’m linking up to Free Motion Quilting Friday at Leah Day’s The Free Motion Quilting Project. If you want to see the finished quilt which has all these flawed bits of stitching on them, you can find it here.]