Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News from the sweatshop with a view!

I've been 'nose to the grindstone' with A&J2's wedding quilt. My DH doesn't like it - but he doesn't like scrappy quilts and this one is the 'mother of all scrappy quilts!' I might run it by my stitchery group tomorrow. Some positive feedback is always helpful in the middle!

I've made great progress - I have finished quilting two 1/4s and have connected them. Not bad for 1 1/2 weeks.

Here is my method. The quilt is H*U*G*E! 108" square! I made specialized log cabin blocks. Cut the strip 2" and although 1.5" logs seem reasonable for a king-sized quilt - I have to admit the logs look really big! Don't ask me why! I don't know!

Each block is made from 2 colors and the colors rick-rack across the width of the quilt. Some rows repeat - due to a 'not following the plan' problem!! I discovered I'd cheerfully made 10 blocks that didn't exist in the plan - time for a new plan!! Would you believe it took me 3 hours to revamp that silly layout??? I even drew it FIVE times WRONG!

I bought an adjustable height table to jerry-rig a quilting setup with my dining room table. I set the height of the sewing machine so the extended workspace plastic thingie lines up with the height of my large dining room table. It works really slick, I'm happy to report.

I also bought one of those flexible bright lights and have it stuck to my machine. The flexible arm soon develops a 'favorite' angle - in my case it's not the angle I want - so I fixed it in the right place with a length of 1/4" masking tape! It's been invaluable for this quilt.

I made a backing 120 x 120 and then cut it into fourths! Same with my kingsize batt. Yes, it did hurt to do that!! But it created exactly the right size to work with. I could have used my 90" wide batting but my brain hurt trying to think of something that I could use easily to use up the rest! And just where I would store it til used!

When I laid out the top I used the large dance floor at a quilt group meeting place - it worked great! Then I carefully marked each block with a label in the upper left hand corner - because I needed placement AND orientation to make this work. And surprise, surprise - I didn't screw up any of the blocks! Very unusual for me!! I sewed the blocks into 1/4s and was ready to go. This made the sections I was going to quilt 55 x 55. I wouldn't want to go any bigger than that with my DSM [domestic sewing machine] As it is - it's like wrestling alligators to get it thru the harp.

I love log cabin quilts with quilting spiraling out from the center square - so that's what I chose to do. Probably why I feel like I'm wrestling alligators - I have to turn each square all the way around 3 times while quilting! Probably not the easiest choice - but I still love it.

AND I've been repairing quilts since I moved out here 18 months ago. A is really hard on quilts - they are well loved. So-o I'm quilting it with a decorative stitch - I've used it on kid's quilts - it takes a 'divot' on each side of the seam so anchors the seam allowances well and hopefully it will strengthen the seams. I'll let you know in a few years!

With half the quilt done - and a babysitting job coming up tomorrow - I am officially taking a break from it until Wednesday next week! I'm also out of the King Tut variegated green thread I'm using - so hopefully it will be here by the time we get back from Portland and then Brookings.

Is anyone else hooked on the Olympics?? Boy - I need to go into training - to watch them! I don't stay up until midnight! But I've been hand quilting on my "Birds of a Feather" and I was making good progress until the figure skating started! I have to stop to watch the routines! Don't worry - I can quilt during commercials and all the commentary!! So with both quilting projects I have been quilting 8-10 hours a day!! Now that's a sweatshop!!

It's a gorgeous day today - the ocean is blue and the sky clear! I've already walked the beach this am.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Busy busy busy!!

Here is the view from our balcony in Brookings. As you can see there is a lot of interest - watching the waves break against the seastacks can entertain for hours!

I'm in Brookings with DH again. Last week I was in Newport by myself - in a sweatshop of my own making!

If you remember, at the fall retreat I pieced 1/2 the log cabin blocks for my son's wedding quilt, but didn't touch it after I got back home. Panic was beginning to set in; so I sent DH off to Brookings and I stayed home. I pieced the other 50+ blocks of the wedding quilt in 4 days. These blocks aren't regular log cabins [that would be too easy] - each is only 2 colors and they 'rick rack' across the quilt in waves of color. [whatever made me think this would be a good idea for a 'deadline' quilt??]

I filled the condo with my sewing apparatus and piles of color strips. When I ate I had to clear a one foot section of a large table to make room! Thank goodness it was only me there - cause I just left it all out for a week. I sewed for 6 hours on a 'short' day - 11 hours on the longest!!

DH took the laptop with him - so I had the desktop computer - it's slow and stuck in a corner without a view! In other words, not fun to use! I got on everyday for a few minutes and then back to the sweatshop! I walked and went to the pool, but that was basically it. My car didn't even leave the garage for 3 days!

On Friday I took the pile of blocks down to Bayshore where I laid it out on the large dance floor and my quilting group consulted! It worked great - I THINK we got most of the repeats of a specific fabric away from each other. I carefully labeled the blocks according to position and orientation - very important for this quilt. I'm sewing it together in fourths so I can quilt it myself with my DSM. I'll be working with 55 inch squares and I think that's do-able on my Janome. I have 3 of the fourths together and hope to assemble the last one today. I hate to jinx myself - but they've been going together wonderfully! I'll give you a sneak peak next week - if all goes well.

It's almost all from stash - [I bought some third yards of yellow - I don't have very much yellow in my stash] it's very scrappy and I think it's going to be good. When I get back home Thursday I'll start assembling the scrappy backs - this is a 105 x 105 quilt so I should get a HUGE start on the 100 yards used in a year contest! I hope to be binding this quilt by March ... I always was an optimist!!

Sunday two members of the Bayshore group came down on the Coastal shophop. I met them for breakfast and the quilt shop here. They came for a quick look-see at the condo and off they went back up the coast to the quilt shops. It was great to have them visit! Today two friends are coming by on their way to Palm Desert - and they are staying over! We'll give them the twin beds and we'll sleep on the blow-up mattress! We DO have four chairs so hopefully, we'll all survive! The guys, of course, are hoping to golf tomorrow - so far it looks possible - but that can change in a hurry!