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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Finish Along Quarter 1 – Just wishin’ and hopin’…

Okay, so I guess it’s time I finally buckle down and make a list for the Finish Along hosted for 2015 by Adrianne at On the Windy Side. A lot of people whose blogs I follow have done the Finish Along in the past, but I’ve never participated before. I’m not really great at setting or keeping goals, I’m a slow sewist, and I don’t like feeling guilty when I don’t succeed (and I’m good at feeling guilty), but I decided to go for it this year. I also decided to just go ahead and make some (for me) wild goals because if they’re wild, then maybe I won’t be so bothered about it if I don’t succeed.

Finish Along Quarter 1 Dreams

So to that end, I’m posting 7 projects for my 1st quarter finish-along goals!

1. Brown and Green Hashtag Quilt. A sweet baby girl (just born!) will be receiving this quilt. It still needs to be basted, quilted, and bound. But I have plans for that and they should be achievable soon. (I’m not working this weekend, I already know how I’m going to quilt it, and the only decision left to make is what to bind it with.)

2. Confetti Go Lucky Quilt. This quilt will be for my mom. It’s partially quilted, but I gave up working on it sometime before Christmas when my Juki machine started squeaking like mad. (I took the machine into the shop and they ran it for 20 minutes with no squeaks. What the actual fuck? Anyway, I’m hoping to pick it back up again this weekend. If it squeaks, I will cry. And then record it so that I have evidence!) Anyway, I need to finish quilting, then I need to bind it. There’s more than half to go. I’d like to get it finished early in February.

3. Easter Cross-Stitch. This was meant to be a Christmas gift for my Mom, but I didn’t figure out how to convert the cross-stitched panel (stitched by my sister) into the wall-hanging I wanted it to be. Once I sort out how I want to get it done, it should be an easy finish, but I’m so very, very good at putting things off.

4. Economy Block Minis. I have a series of three or four minis that revolve around that economy/square in square block. I’ve been “working on” that project since… round about March last year. I’d like to have it done by the end of January. There is still more sewing, then basting, quilting, binding to be done.

5. Botanics Patchwork. This super simple quilt will be for me. I’m torn between doing a kind of orange peel quilting and using this quilt to practise a million and one FMQ patterns. Probably I’ll go with the orange peel plan, though. Needs to be basted, quilted, and bound.

6. January Blogger Bundle Subscription Quilt. I’ve got fabric and a pattern and plans to turn that interesting little bundle of fabric into a quilt top. I don’t have plans for that quilt (ie. no plans for a recipient), but I still want to try it out.

7. A Field Guide Baby Quilt. This will likely be a charity quilt – I originally bought the fabric with that in mind, so it seems like a great way to go! I’m not sure the fabric and that pattern are really meant to go together – there’s not a lot of contrast in the fabrics and the pattern relies on a certain amount of contrast to create the pattern… but I want to give it a shot anyway. Maybe. I think we’ll see when I finally pull the jelly roll apart and start trying to make blocks with it.

8/9. Okay, this isn’t pictured, but if I’m going with a go-big-or-go-home goal list, All Solids Jelly Roll Race. No photo because the fabric is en route. This is all down to Michèle-Renée (or should I say M-R? I’m one of those people who doesn’t really use nicknames, if I meet you as a “William” I will call you that till the end of time, even if everyone else in the world calls you Bill… so once I know a “real” name, the nicknames tend to fall by the wayside in my head) who recently posted this all-solids jelly roll race quilt on her blog, Quilt Matters. I’d never liked a jelly roll race quilt until I saw that one, and then Pam at Mad About Patchwork put her Kona Sunrise and Sunset roll-ups on sale for January, so you know… I bought one of each, because CLEARLY I need a matched set of sunrise and sunset jelly roll quilts. So…. yeah, there’s two more extras.

So, nine goals. Truly I’ll be happy if I get the first four items finished, but anything else would be amazing too, so here’s to goal-making!

And now… I should really go sew.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: January 2015

I often lose too much of the month with these things by dithering until the last second before deciding what my goal will be, and by then I’ve lost a week of time I could have spent sewing! But I only really have one big goal this month, and that’s to finish my 42 Hashtag baby quilt that my sister commissioned for a co-worker friend who is having a baby. If you follow me on Instagram (@clumsychord), you’ll have probably hit your tolerance level for how many times you want to see the unfinished bits of this quilt…

Forty-Two hashtags, finally. #sewmystash2015

but here is a little more. To be honest, in the last couple days I did get the entire quilt top pieced, but I’m very reluctant to show it because I want to just show the finished piece, when I finally get it there, instead of spoiling it by showing the whole thing now!

43 Hashtags

The mama of the baby this is intended for doesn’t know if she is having a boy or a girl, so she did the nursery mostly in lime greens and browns. So my sister asked for that and then I dug around in my solids stash for a good brown (with enough quantity – I don’t tend to stash a lot of 2 yard cuts of solid fabric in anything but black or white!) and fished around in my green scraps for fabrics large enough to cut 5-inch charms. I wanted to get a good blend of greens, leaning as much toward lime as possible (though I think I tended to hit grellow more – you know, that yellow-green colour that’s kind of like chartreuse I suppose), and then I wanted also to add in a little bit of sky blue and some yellow, just to make sure there was a bit of depth and interest.

43 Hashtags

Piecing all these hashtag blocks together, I noticed that I’ve got a metric ton of dot and… dot-adjacent fabrics. So very many dots!

43 Hashtags

Anyway, the goal for this month is just to get this little thing finished. All that’s left at this point is basting, quilting, and binding. And it’s a pretty small quilt, so it shouldn’t take too long. As always, it’s the basting that’s holding me up. I do love to avoid that particular nightmare as long as possible… but needs must. So my next day off work, that’s going to be my goal – basting. And then after that I think I’ll fly through it. I’ve got a fairly simple plan for the quilting (since my good machine is still in the shop and I don’t want to rely on having it back soon enough to use) so once I get it going, it should be a pretty quick project. And then binding and it’ll be done!

I’m really loving this quilt. I mean, usually I have a half dozen things to point out and say that I’d change this or I’d change that, but assuming all goes well, this one should just be a straight up pat-myself-on-the-back quilt. I need to get it done because I’m just actually kind of excited to show it to everyone!

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes, WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network, WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.


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A Lovely Year of Finishes – October Goal (+ TTMT)

So I chose a really easy goal in September, which means I think I should pick something a little more complex this month! And I’m really hoping I’ll get it done because if I do, then my Christmas gift for my mom will be entirely taken care of. I talked about this a bit back in the winter when I was working on piecing the top, but I played pretty coy with it because I kept hoping I’d get it finished really quickly, and I wanted to be like “Woo look what I made!” without beating the whole thing to death before hand like I usually do. But the last photo I took was in February, so clearly that getting it finished quickly thing didn’t pan out. In fact, let’s look at my January ALYOF goal:

January goals

And then I went on to talk about how I wanted to give this to my mom for her birthday (early in February) but that they probably wouldn’t come to visit until late that month. Hahahahaha. February.

Okay, well, continuing to play coy with the look of the entire quilt, this is my goal for October: to get the Confetti Go Lucky quilt basted and quilted and bound. Soon would be good (because I want to get two charity quilts done this month too, if possible).

October A Lovely Year of Finishes goal

A Lovely Year of Finishes

And finally, another Talk to Me Tuesday video. I’ll get around to writing about these cushion covers one day soon… (the light’s just gone really early, so I keep putting off photo taking till after dinner, but by then it’s too late).


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Bits and Bobs (June Goals)

I’m feeling very talky today, so naturally I’m home alone all weekend AND I don’t have to work till Monday. No one to talk to! GAH. I’m going to go crazy. A little bit.

Anyway… I spent so much of May not sewing that I got way behind on my just-for-me sewing plans – I didn’t even look at my May A Lovely Year of Finishes goal (which was my Layer Cake HST Quiltalong) and I didn’t touch my Gypsy Wife blocks at all. So I’m behind by all of May and now need to get June done for two quilts… so that’s going to be my goal for the month, getting all those sets of blocks finished!

My Button

Here’s where I’m at:

001

By the time I’m caught up, I won’t be able to fit all my blocks on the design wall any more! (And so probably I’ll wind up taking down the low volume ones and leaving the brights up instead.)

I’ve only got five more blocks to sew for the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

002

which means I could finish them by the end of the day if I’d just focus on them. But I’m too distracted! Too distracted by sewing up a block of the Infatuation quilt:

Infatuation block

I went and fished another solid out of my bin of solids, one which I fortunately had about three-quarters of a yard of (it takes 5/8s I think to make a single block). I really like this blue, but I think I need to learn to label my solids when they come in the door because I have no idea what colour it is. I’m pretty sure it’s a Kona cotton, but when I compare it to my colour card (which is out of date), I can’t decide what colour it is. I thought at a glance that it was Midnight or Nightfall, but when I put the fabric up closer it looks more like Navy or Indigo. I tend not to find the colour card all that useful in that way… the swatches are two small and I often think I have a match, then when I get it in yardage I discover that it’s really not at all what I thought. Anyway, I actually really like how it looks with a selection of fabrics from Lottie Da and True Colours (crappy Instagram photo):

Lottie Da, True Colors, and an indeterminate blue...

But whether I love it or not, I don’t know what it is to order more anyway! How much would it suck to make a guess, order 6 yards, and then find out I’d got something a shade or two off?

I’m starting to think that’s what’s going to happen is I’ll make four of these blocks, with four different backgrounds and I’ll either crap out and decide that a 60″ x 60″ throw is enough (or I could slap a border on it so that it’d be big enough to be useful… I’m short, but I like a quilt to wrap under my feet and over my shoulders) or I’ll find something much more neutral and make four coloured background blocks and five neutral ones so that I could mix them all into one quilt. (But then I’d probably not find it that aesthetically pleasing, so. I don’t know.)

Anyway, I also have five or six small things to make, a couple pouches and some hot pads (and I need to find my Insulbrite for those… I know I’ve got two opened packages of the stuff, so I really do need to look) and some other little bits and pieces. None of it sounds like so much when I lay it out like this, but I never seem to sew half as much as I want to, so I never can tell if these ideas of what I should do are realistic. In any case, these are only the things I hope to get done this month… and the Gypsy Wife stuff is the actual proper goal.


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March Gypsy Wife

Well, it’s only taken me until April, but I’ve finished my (brights) Gypsy Wife blocks!

Gypsy Wife

Here are all my blocks – February and March (plus one bonus hourglass from the future…) – so far. You can see a tiny bit of a couple of my lower volume blocks too down at the bottom, but I haven’t started on those blocks yet…

Gypsy Wife

I started out with the easy blocks, more pinwheels, tiny little pinwheels (I think those central units are 2.5-inches… or maybe they were 3… anyway, small). I really like the framed pinwheels – it sort of makes me want to add more to the quilt somewhere, but then I’d have to start adjusting the sizes of other things to make things fit. The lovely Mari-Ann (@rockislander on IG) sent me some scraps in exchange for some Mendocino scraps I sent her and I bunch of those popped up in these blocks! I’m mostly aiming to cut into larger pieces of fabric for the big blocks in the quilt, but to use scraps in the smaller blocks. There are a lot of little square in square blocks in the quilt, so I think they’ll be great for using up random triangles and weird bits like that.

Gypsy Wife

This is the block that I let hold me up for a long time, the Pershing block. It’s… not as a bad to put together as I expected. But you have to be very careful of all those bias cuts and it helps to sew scant seams throughout and then trim the unit down so that it’s square before adding the next round. It would be really helpful if the pattern had more instruction, like what size each unit should be as you construct it. I kept thinking throughout that I was going to wind up with a too small block and that I’d have to add a half-inch border around it to bring it up to size, but it only wound up about 1/8″ too small all around, which I can live with. It would also be useful to have some instruction on how best to piece the block. I’ve done a lot of traditional piecing in my years of sewing, so I didn’t have issues getting it together, but I think if anyone who was fairly new to traditional piecing were to try it, it would be pretty intimidating. I think pattern writers always have to find that balance between too much hand-holding and not enough, but even just a basic explanation of what to do and when would be helpful for a lot of people.

Anyway, I think I’m going to try to get my April brights blocks done first, then I’ll backtrack and get into the lower volume ones for March and April – I have a week’s holiday in April, so it shouldn’t be an issue, I hope!

Linking up with the Gypsy Wife Quiltalong, being hosted by Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day:

GypsyWifeQAL

This month’s prize is being sponsored by Fresh Modern Fabric:

gypsy-freshmodernfabric

Why not come link up too! I know there are more of you out there stitching along than have popped by to link up!

While I’m at it with the link-ups, I better set this as my A Year of Lovely Finishes goal for April – I want to finish all my March and April blocks for my low volume version as well as my April blocks for my brights version. I don’t like being behind, so I better get myself all the way caught up!

A Lovely Year of Finishes


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A Lovely Year of Finishes: January Goal

If you saw my post the other day about why I’m Fabric Fasting, then you may have also seen those ginormous lists of WIPs and wish-they-were-in-progress projects. I don’t have any delusions about finishing all of those before the end of 2014, but I’d really, really like it if I could knock at least a few off the list. And, ahem, maybe start fewer new projects for once. I don’t want to start with all the easy ones (ie. all the small projects :D), but I also want to be realistic about what I can finish in any given amount of time. So I think I’m going to try to set a few monthly goals, something realistic given the time I tend to devote to sewing and something a little bigger and a bit more pie in the sky. My Lovely Year of Finishes goals will always be the realistic ones, because they seem pretty focussed on the idea of having manageable goals, and I can get behind that!

January goals

So January. For January, my ALYoF goal is the starred one – to finish my Sunshine cushion cover.

Sunshine pillow

It’s further along than this picture implies, but I’m still back-and-forthing on whether or not to pick out that embroidery and do it again in a darker thread. (Orange seems a good choice.) On the one hand, I love the stitching and think it came out beautifully and am loathe to pick out something that came out so good on the first go around. On the other hand, it nearly blends into that yellow and if it’s not readable, who cares how good it looks?

For my other goals/hopes, the bee blocks are a given. I have to do them (because I don’t want to be a jerk who reneges on her promises) and in fact hope to get them done today. One is a very simple paper-pieced block with large amounts of negative space surrounding it, and the other is a fairly simple herringbone-style block.

Cat-vent Quilt-along

For the Catvent quilt, I’ve got two rows almost competely finished. I’m tossing around the idea of making only three (rather than 5) rows of faces and using some of my Mad About Patchwork giftcard to buy some of the Catnap fabrics whenever they arrive and piece in chunks of those in place of making all 25 blocks. I don’t know. I was enjoying piecing all those blocks and choosing all kinds of different scraps to go into it, but it’s not a project I’m super devoted to, it was just an entertaining diversion; so is it worth putting a lot of time into? I don’t know. It’ll be good for practising some quilting, though, once it’s all pieced together.

Confetti quilt

Okay, and the Confetti Go Lucky quilt. I don’t seem to have any half-decent pictures of it, but the top is pieced and the backing is pieced, so I just need to get it basted and start quilting it. This is my pie in the sky goal because I know it’s going to be the most amount of work, and thus the hardest to devote myself to doing. If there’s anything to be learned from my 2013 year in review, it’s that I do a lot of small things and very few large things, and I think it’s because I let these big projects intimidate me and then I just put them off indefinitely. I want to give this to my mom though, preferably for her birthday, which is February 7, so I really need to get it quilted if that’s going to happen. (Realistically, they won’t come to visit until late in February, so I’ll probably have some time.)

So, if tl;dr… I’m linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes with a goal of finishing the Sunshine cushion cover. Anything else will be gravy.